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 Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for a Narrow Fence Line in TN
February 03, 2015 - I have a very specific and difficult planting question. I have a narrow strip (about 2 feet at the widest) between my back privacy fence and a wire fence that marks the edge of my property. It is dire...
view the full question and answer

Native landscaping plants for Sherman, Texas
December 19, 2007 - We are starting from scratch on landscaping our new yard. We live in Sherman, TX and I would like to use plants and flowers that are native to Texas and have a good chance of surviving. What are you...
view the full question and answer

Problems for plants growing over closed loop field of geothermal system
October 22, 2008 - We would like to install a geothermal heating/cooling system on our Wisconsin property. Are there any environmental problems with the heat that is put back in the earth from a geothermal system? We ...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for golf courses from Austin
October 06, 2013 - I may be working on two different golf courses and wanted to know if any native or hybrid native grasses would work for the fairways and rough areas? The rough areas are no problem as a number of ...
view the full question and answer

Understory plants for Tuolumne Co., CA
May 14, 2007 - My driveway is lined with purple plum trees. I would like to grow something underneath them. What can I grow that will not harm the root system/health of the trees?
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