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 Turf Questions

Savannah holly sprouting in lawn in Oklahoma City
May 24, 2009 - I have a 15 year old Savannah Holly in a shrub bed. This year, seedlings have sprouted all over my front lawn. This is the first year that I have had this problem other than in the shrub bed itself. I...
view the full question and answer

Value of planting wildflowers versus maintaining turf
November 02, 2004 - I'm trying to determine the cost/value of planting wildflowers and whether it is less costly than maintaining turf. Do you have any research on this topic?
view the full question and answer

Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
October 25, 2013 - When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion in IL
August 02, 2012 - We just got done building a house and have leveled all of the dirt piles. We do have a row of straw bales to help prevent the dirt from washing onto the neighbors property. It is the wrong time of ye...
view the full question and answer

Growth of non-native bermudagrass in Snelville GA
July 16, 2011 - How do you grow Bermuda grass successfully in the state of Georgia? Techniques in fertilization, lawn cutting and general maintenance. Thank you.
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