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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - November 06, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Drought Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Drought affecting non-native Zoysia grass in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Due to the extreme drought here in Austin this year and the watering restrictions our Zoysia lawn has suffered and appears to be dead in many areas of our lawn. Will it come back? Is there anything we can do to help it grow again?

ANSWER:

From Gardening Know How, read this article Zoysia Grass Problems. As far as Mr. Smarty Plants is concerned, the main problem with Zoysia is that it is native to Southeast Asia. We know that a lot of people try to grow it in this area thinking it will tolerate more shade, but it really doesn't. It doesn't need as much water as guzzling St. Augustine does, but it comes close. We suggest you bite the bullet and get rid of the zoysia, which also can become invasive when it IS doing well.

We have a number of How-to Articles and some research results from the Lady Bird Wildflower Center on native grass mixes for Central Texas. As our drought continues wreaking havoc with water-intensive gardens, more and more gardeners are learning that plants native to an area will have seen the worst conditions before, in their genetic memories. In drought and water rationing, these natives hang on. Here are the links to information we think will help you:

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening

Native Lawns: Multi Species - introducing Habiturf

Native Lawns - including comparisons in weed resistance between non-native and native grasses

These native lawns are not too keen on shade, either, but the researchers are constantly improving the mix. If you have a lot of shade, you might rethink what should go beneath it: mulch, low-growing shade groundcovers, or decomposed granite.

 

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