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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.

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

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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

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