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
1 rating

Monday - January 30, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Habiturf in Houston
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I want to install a Multi-Species Native Lawn, like HABITURF. However, I live in Houston, Texas and most of your information on this topic doesn't address my region. As I don't have a heavily shaded yard, I'm contemplating giving it a try, and would love any tips and advice you could give me! Much appreciated.

ANSWER:

The reason that our article, Native Lawns: Multi-Species, doesn't address your region is that there hasn't been research on growing these grasses in the Houston area.  The three grasses, Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama), and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass), occur naturally in the drier western and northern parts of Texas. Someone from Houston asked a similar question very recently and I am copying liberally from its answer to answer your question.

Mark Simmons, the Director of the Ecosystem Design Group here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, who is in charge of the Habiturf development and research says his main concern about it being successful in the Houston area is the fact that Houston receives more rainfall than the areas where the grasses grow naturally.  Since Houston's average annual rainfall is a little over 51 inches and Austin's (where the grass has been tested) is around 33 inches, your soil is more likely to become saturated.  Saturated soil doesn't work well for this mix of grasses that normally grows in the drier soils of the more western part of Texas.   Additionally, the extra moisture would encourage the growth of weeds.  The native mix is successful in out-competing weeds in drier soils, but with more water it is not likely to be as successful.  So, if your soil has good drainage, or you can make it so, and you are willing to pull a few weeds until the grass is well-established, I'd say "go for it" as long as the area gets 2 to 6 hours of sun per day (defined as part shade).  The mixture is not successful in full shade. 

The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the planning stage.  Hopefully, we will soon have native turf grasses specific to your area to recommend.

 

More Turf Questions

Lawn grass for Erath County, TX
October 02, 2012 - We live in Erath County in TX on ranch land. We are relatively dry. Our soil is combination of clay and red soil (brought in for building pad), and sandy. We have a sloped area, about 30%, that we w...
view the full question and answer

Drought-resistant and grub-resistant grass for Smithville TX
October 02, 2012 - I want a drought resistant grass for a sunny area that is also resistant to grubs. I have lots of grubs but want a healthy soil of good microbes. Any ideas? Zoysia, Buffalo? I noticed that Tech Turf r...
view the full question and answer

When do Habiturf® grasses make seeds?
June 16, 2015 - I planted Habiturf seeds last year near Dripping Springs. It looks like the Buffalo grass has had seeds on it for a week or 2. How long does it need to remain on the live Buffalo Grass before it can b...
view the full question and answer

Do I need to cover my Habiturf planting with straw?
March 02, 2012 - I'm preparing to seed the Habiturf in my front yard in a couple of weeks. My dad has suggested I spread some straw to help protect the seeds. Your thoughts? Thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Brown ryegrass in Austin lawn
June 03, 2008 - We had rye grass planted in our yard last fall. It was beautiful all winter. Now it is brown but the St. Augustine has not yet taken over, so there are large portions of the lawn with an abundance o...
view the full question and answer

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