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



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 Groundcovers Questions

Groundcovers for North Central Texas
May 27, 2014 - I have a very large area that is in Palo Pinto County, Texas. We tried to plant grass but it never established. I'm looking for a ground cover that does well in shade (lots of oak tees) and is semi d...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for high canal bank in Florida
May 27, 2009 - My home is on a canal to a natural lake in Central Florida (Orlando area). I am wondering if there is a wildflower that I can grow on a 3' high canal bank that is mostly shady.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover that won't hide snakes from Asheville NC
June 29, 2012 - I have an unusual situation: several bare areas in an otherwise wooded area, which receive partial sun, and are not near water -- it rains here frequently, but the soil can become quite dry at times. ...
view the full question and answer

Low-growing plant for grave in boggy Newfoundland
May 30, 2008 - I am looking for any suggestions on what type of plant I can plant on a grave. It is very boggy (peat)land. I want something that is hardy & not too tall. We have about 8 weeks of summer, July & Augus...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for cleared property in Austin
February 23, 2010 - I live in a small apartment building near 183 & 620. The land beyond the lawn has trees and has been cleared of brush. They are planning to seed the ground. I thought invasive native ground covers wo...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center