Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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.

 

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Deer and Drought Resistant Natives for San Marcus, Texas
February 15, 2012 - Hi there, Do you have a list of plants and ground covers (deer/drought resistant) for the San Marcos area? Much as I love grass, it's impossible with this drought. I'd love to have lots of flowers ...
view the full question and answer

Water-Wise Privacy Hedge for California
February 22, 2016 - I would like recommendations for a privacy hedge that would grow at least 12 feet tall with non-invasive roots and hopefully water-wise in Los Angeles.
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant turf for Southern California
April 23, 2015 - Is it possible to grow Habiturf in Riverside, California, in the area of UC Riverside? The climate is similar to the desert areas or Arizona, just slightly cooler in the Summer. If not, is there a d...
view the full question and answer

Survival of native lawn in Hockley TX
August 02, 2011 - I'm on the edge of the Katy Prairie and a very large ranch with full blasting sun and completely open exposure. The soil is fill from the developers with more clay than sand, a minimum of nutrients,...
view the full question and answer

Tree to replace Betula nigra (River birch) in Memphis
August 13, 2012 - HI Mr. Smarty Pants, I think I need to replace the river birch tree in my west-facing front yard in Memphis, TN. I have sun all day, but it gets really hot in the afternoon. The soil in my yar...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.