En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 04, 2011

From: Laredo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Groundcover for Laredo Texas
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am in Laredo, TX and no longer want to waste water on grass. I would like to pull it all out and plant native, drought resistant ground cover - low growing, between 6-12 inches, sun and partial shade. Any suggestions? Thank you

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants thinks that’s a good choice and that you have lots of options.

First of all, if you want something close to your grass, but marvelously thrifty on water and effort, you should consider a multi-species buffalo grass lawn mix.   The multi-species buffalo grass mix lawn is one of the Wildflower Center's favored lawn approaches. There has been quite a bit of funded research aimed at this, and this article summarizes both the findings of that research and our recommendations for lawn care. The short version of the result is: "We have found that a mix of Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) needs less mowing, watering and weeding and simulates nature's shortgrass prairies. Although different species, these grasses have almost identically shaped leaves and color and produce a great-looking, even-textured, dense lawn".  All of these grasses are recommended species for South Texas.

If you’d like to experiment in a ground cover mix that is a bit less lawn–like and emphasizes a mixture of native plants, we have a list of recommended species that is specific to the South Texas Plains.  These can be searched for herbs that are roughly a foot high.  There is a number of plants that fit this description, should do well and require little care.  Here are a few of them :

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)

Glandularia canadensis (Rose vervain)

Macrosiphonia lanuginosa var. macrosiphon (Plateau rocktrumpet)

Phlox glabriflora (Rio grande phlox)

Sisyrinchium sagittiferum (Blue-eyed grass)

Please note that only a few of these do well in the FULL Texas sun!

 

From the Image Gallery


Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Rose vervain
Glandularia canadensis

Rio grande phlox
Phlox glabriflora

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Effects or insecticide on Monarch butterflies
July 28, 2013 - Thank you for fielding questions about plants!! Our nursery just informed us that their milkweed grower was using imidacloprid in their milkweed production. As a follow up to the question already in...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pergola in Lubbock TX
May 29, 2013 - I need suggestions of plants, vines, bushes to plant in my backyard near my wooden pergola that will work well in full sun in Lubbock, TX. Ideally, I'd like some that attract hummingbirds and provide...
view the full question and answer

Removing fading blooms from iris
June 19, 2007 - Iris maintenance: when blooms begin to fade do I pluck off just the bloom? cut off the entire stalk? leave it alone? Some blooms grow on stalks without leaves and some on stalks with leaves.
view the full question and answer

Annual for poor drainage area in Temple TX
October 08, 2009 - What annual would you recommend for a bed with poor drainage for summer color ?
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native 'Glacier Blues' from Charlton MA
March 24, 2012 - Do you have to prune or cut down Glacier Blues in the garden? My plants look brown and wilted.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center