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
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 Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native grasses for organic farm in Elgin TX
July 22, 2014 - Hi there, I am working to restore native grasses on our certified organic farm in Elgin, TX. We raise eggs, grass fed beef, and grass fed lamb. I am having a terrible time finding organic pastur...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Lighthouse Point FL
April 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I am looking for mowable ground cover for part of my back yard. Due to a Mahogany tree, a hammock, surrounding foliage and a fence, there is alot of shade in the area, alon...
view the full question and answer

Native flower bed with part sun
December 05, 2008 - I have recently put in three small flower beds and replaced the hard clay with decent dirt. The site is shaded in the AM but mostly sun in the PM. I would like to plant natives - what can you recommen...
view the full question and answer

Dog-proof grass from The Woodlands TX
April 26, 2013 - I am looking for a hardy grass that can tolerate female dogs urine. Zoysia was suggested but I am concerned about it being invasive. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Reducing Allergens in Yards and Gardens
January 31, 2012 - What are some allergen-free native plants to Central Texas that thrive in the soil and can survive in the weather?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center