En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Horseherb
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

Winter groundcover for shaded backyard in Austin
January 10, 2013 - I live in south Austin and have a shaded backyard. During the summer, the lawn died and the ground is now bare. I'd like to plant some kind of winter grass or ground cover that will hold the soil i...
view the full question and answer

Ground covers for sandy hill in New York
April 12, 2006 - We have just built a new home and a sandy fill was needed around the house. It sits on a hill and the fill is very sandy. We would like to plant something to stabilize the bank that is native to the a...
view the full question and answer

Lawn Options for Saginaw, MI
April 09, 2015 - I'm looking for a low maintenance, high traffic lawn alternative. Will Texas Frogfruit handle the winter? My yard is small so covering it is an option.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for memorial garden in Michigan
March 04, 2008 - I want to start a memorial garden for my daughter. I live in northern Michigan and the area has very tall white pines we have pruned them up about 15' so the area does get partial sun. Which plants w...
view the full question and answer

Removing bermudagrass from buffalograss in Smithville TX
May 01, 2013 - I have a lawn created two years ago with buffalo grass sod in Smithville, TX. Recently several areas of bermudagrass have started to flourish in the buffalo grass lawn. Can you recommend a herbicide...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center