Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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 Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Propagation of rain, oxblood, and copper lily bulbs
November 30, 2012 - I have Rain Lily, Oxblood Lily, and Copper Lily bulbs out of the ground, that are putting out some green growth. I would like to plant them soon. Is it okay to plant now and in December, or do I hav...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Steep Bank in Wisconsin
March 21, 2010 - We live on a lake with many white and red pines. The steep bank needs something not adversely affected by a buildup of pine needles to hold the sandy soil in place. The bank faces west and the pines ...
view the full question and answer

Planting Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)
October 27, 2011 - Is it too late to plant Gulf Muhly seed in North Texas (October)?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Zen garden in North Carolina
November 03, 2007 - I am looking for plants that would be suitable for a ZEN style garden in North Carolina
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for plants under sugar maple (Acer saccharum) tree
March 12, 2011 - We have an area under sugar maple trees and near white pines. We cannot get any grass to grow. There is little moisture and no sun in the summer. We live 25 miles north of Nashville, TN. Can you r...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.