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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


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?


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.


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Will the native turf grass be a habitat for chiggers?
May 25, 2011 - "Researchers create perfect Texas lawn"—Article. No mention was made of insect issues with this new type of lawn installation. Will 'chiggers/red bugs' still be an issue?
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Holding bare soil before sowing native grasses in spring.
November 03, 2009 - I want to try your buffalo/bluegrama/curly mesquite. Right now my yard is ploughed. What should I do until spring? I assume I should add living compost to the top 3", plant bluegrass for now, and ...
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Inland sea oats as backfrop for pigeon berry
August 20, 2007 - I am thinking of using inland sea oats as a backdrop for pigeon berry (Rivina humilis) in a shady area along my foundation. Will this combination work, or will the sea oats outcompete the pigeon berr...
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Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
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Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
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