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

Wednesday - August 03, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Evergreen ground cover for San Antonio
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Is there a short, evergreen, drought tolerant ground cover which will tolerate light traffic that can be used instead of grass? San Antonio, Texas

ANSWER:

Here are a few groundcover plants that are evergreen in the San Antonio area.  You didn't say what the light situation is, but most of these will grow in sun or part shade.   All will tolerate at least some mowing and all are drought tolerant but will require moisture to become established.

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge) grows best in part shade.

Carex perdentata (Meadow sedge) grows in sun.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) grows in sun and part shade.

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) grows in sun, part shade and shade.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) grows in sun and part shade.

I know that you said you wanted an alternative to grass, but you may not know about the Native Lawn alternatives that are being researched by the Wildflower Center.   The major component is Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss).  You can have a lawn using exclusively buffalograss or you can add Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass) to make a multi-species lawn that uses very little water (once established), can be mowed as infrequently as once or twice a year, may turn brown in the dry, hot summer but greens again with rain.  These three native grasses require full sun so if you are dealing with some areas that are shade or part shade, you would need to consider one of the groundcovers shown above, at least, for the shady area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Meadow sedge
Carex perdentata

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Top soil dressing for bermudagrass
February 25, 2009 - Need to apply top soil dressing to bermudagrass. Can you suggest any type? This area is heavy clay soil and need to even out the lawn as well as feed the grass.
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Plants That Thrive Under Trees in Texas
April 06, 2011 - I have a flower bed with dense shade (under a mature maple tree and a large mature bottle brush) located on the Galveston/Harris county line just off of Clear Lake. The bed has sprinklers and drains w...
view the full question and answer

When to move eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides)
September 18, 2010 - I have a huge Eastern gamagrass clump that I need to move. What is the best time of year to transplant native grasses
view the full question and answer

Speed of bluestem grass spreading in Georgia red clay from Dallas GA
May 13, 2012 - How fast does bluestem spread in Georgia red clay?
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