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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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Tuesday - August 02, 2011

From: Hockley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Survival of native lawn in Hockley TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm on the edge of the Katy Prairie and a very large ranch with full blasting sun and completely open exposure. The soil is fill from the developers with more clay than sand, a minimum of nutrients, and is very slightly acidic. After repeatedly killing the existing bermuda/bahia/former pasture/fill dirt/prairie grass mix, I planted a new lawn of buffalo and blue grama grasses. Unfortunately, the ground was rock hard from compaction and we had to till just to get the seed planted. Now the battle is on between the new grasses and the old ones that are resprouting along with the spurge we tilled up. Although I'm helping the new lawn by hand weeding as much as possible, what is most likely to win the battle in the end?

ANSWER:

In the Conservation section of our website, there is an article on Native Lawns, which includes graphs on the success of the native lawns in competition with weeds. Judging from those graphs, we would say that your selection of grasses is the best on the basis of current research. Then, in the Explore Plants section (where Mr. Smarty Plants lives) there are How-to Articles on Native Lawns: Buffalograss and Native Lawns: Multi-Species. Obviously, we wouldn't be doing all this research, or at least not bragging about it, if we thought there was less chance that the native grasses would ultimately prevail. It must be very discouraging for you right now to be trying to maintain your new lawn in the face of the adverse weather we have been having in Texas this year. But we think you are going in the right direction and, given some better weather and maybe some rain, while the weeds will appreciate that, too, the grasses that are native and actually belong there will prosper even more.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

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