Explore Plants


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

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

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


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?


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

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Turf for high-traffic area in Austin
April 21, 2012 - I am building a large soccer field at my preschool in Austin, TX in a full sun area. What type of grass would be best for me to use given that it will be a very high-traffic area with lots of direct ...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for sloped clay hillside in Ohio
October 16, 2008 - I have built a new home located on a hillside, our soil has a tremendous amount of clay in it. We have a sloped hillside that flows within 25 feet to the back door. The area is wooded and therefore ...
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a shale slope in Virginia
April 08, 2009 - I have family members who recently built a new home in Virginia. The site required extensive excavation resulting in a large 30 foot, nearly vertical, shale wall behind the house. They now want to r...
view the full question and answer

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Annual ryegrass and Habiturf from Austin
October 31, 2013 - We've decided to put Habiturf in our freshly cleared back yard that was overgrown with sticky burs and crabgrass, but now that it is fall, would you recommend putting in a cover crop of annual ryegra...
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.