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 Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas
February 24, 2014 - I am looking for some kind of ground cover to control erosion on a north facing slope in Montgomery County, Texas. The area gets very little direct sunlight. I need something that will establish quick...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for Kentucky grass in Colorado
July 02, 2012 - What kind of grass to replace "Kentucky grass"? It uses too much water. Need drought tolerant grass for the Rifle, Colorado area ("zip code is 81650"). Water bill is way too high, pushing over $10...
view the full question and answer

When does Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) go to seed in southern US?
August 06, 2014 - When does Bouteloua dactyloides go to seed in the southern United States, mainly Texas?
view the full question and answer

Possible to grow Inland Sea Oats in Oklahoma?
March 17, 2011 - Would it be possible to grow inland sea oats in Southeast Oklahoma? Is this within the range of this plant? I am asking on behalf of my cousin in OK.
view the full question and answer

Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
July 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation...
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