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

2012 wildflower forecast from Friendswood TX
September 29, 2011 - What is your current view of the 2012 Wildflower Forecast? What weeks might be best for someone traveling from Colorado to see our flowers? We are concerned about what the drought will do to the 20...
view the full question and answer

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

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

Drought tolerant plants for MA
August 28, 2011 - We have some very very poor soil at our house on Cape Cod and are looking for plants that will take low water and sandy soil. Also we are high on a hill and quite exposed to the elements. The plot get...
view the full question and answer

Environmentally friendly and drought resistant alternatives to St. Augustine grass
September 28, 2006 - As a member of the planning committee of our property owners association in Wimberley TX, we are researching ways to make our landscape environmentally friendly and drought resistant. We have 60,000 ...
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