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

Sunday - October 16, 2011

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Drought Tolerant, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have Bermuda grass. Large patches have died due to the drought and our yard has been taken over by weeds and St. Augustine grass whose seeds must have blown in. Even when the grass was in great condition, it required a lot of watering, and it was not nice to play or walk on bare foot for my two year old daughter. On our back yard I want to have a grass that is drought-resistant, stays green all year around, is able to choke out weeds, is nice to wlk on bare foot, and does not require a lot of maintenance. I have heard of Zoysia, Discovery Bermuda, Turfalo, Buffalo grass, and the more I look the more types I find but I have no idea where to start or how each compared to the other like a side-by-side comparison including costs. Can you help me choose the right grass?

ANSWER:

You have described very well the properties we all want in our gardens; the problem is in the execution of that aim. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will recommend only grasses native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow normally. In this serious drought year, the Wildflower Center specialists have been working hard to find a turf that will grow well under the conditions we have.

Addressing some of the ideas you had; Zoysia is a warm-season grass native to China and Japan which can grow in some shade but does not always perform well there. Bermudagrass is native to Africa, not Bermuda, does not grow well in shade, and is considered one of the most invasive weeds in the South. St. Augustine, while not as invasive as bermudagrass, is also native to Africa, and is one of the worst water guzzlers in Texas. It is one of the few grasses that will do well in shade, but since we now know that 40% of our drinkable water goes into watering lawns, we definitely feel that it should not be considered.

Some of your other ideas did involve native grasses, so we want to refer you to some of the information on our website. First, read this article on Habiturf, which has been researched for some time and is now actually on the market. Notice the bar graphs showing how this grass compares for weed resistance and speed of growing with non-natives. Another article is in our How-To Articles Native Lawns: Multi Species covers some of the same materials. Our understanding is that this mix can tolerate 50% shade.

Since we don't know if your yard is full sun or full shade, we can't make a definite recommendation, but after you read our referenced articles, we think that you will have a better idea of what you can do. The main thing we cannot do for you is provide an evergreen grass or groundcover, particularly that will tolerate much foot traffic, even from little feet.

 

 

 

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
March 26, 2012 - My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of...
view the full question and answer

Cenizo dropping leaves from Corpus Christi TX
February 20, 2014 - Leucophyllum frutescens:I planted a Texas sage hedge in September of 2012. One of the plants is dropping its leaves. It is situated at the corner of an L-shape at the end of drive and corner of road. ...
view the full question and answer

Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
April 29, 2013 - I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like so...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia
April 20, 2013 - Our driveway is 1/4 mile in length and is steep on both sides (one side up one side down). It currently has grass that our contractor planted using seed when we built our house. We are unable to cut t...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center