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

Tuesday - February 07, 2012

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Planting, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Reseeding a dead lawn in Wimberley TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our new house had a sodded lawn that now appears dead. There remains a layer of sandy soil as a part of the sodding process. Is there a way to reseed these existing slabs of sod and what process would I need to follow. The lawn is basically shady/partial shade. I believe the original sod was bermuda or bermuda mix grass (now dead). Deer eat almost everything in our area incl. autumn sage, crown-of-thorns, cotoneaster, lambs ears, and ate the existing grass. Thanks for your advice.

ANSWER:

First, as we often do, we want to answer a couple of questions you didn't ask. If the existing grass was bermudagrass, it is a non-native listed as one of the most invasive weeds in the south. The other thing about bermudagrass is, it doesn't grow well or at all in the shade.

Next, on to the question of "who ate the grass?" Did you ever actually see deer grazing on the grass? Deer are basically browsers, preferring nuts, fruits and new young foliage to grasses, which grazing animals, like cows, will eat. This article from the Arkansas Game and Food Commission What Do Deer Eat? discusses deer eating habits and includes this sentence:

"Unfortunately, pasture plantings of fescue and bermuda grass have replaced many good native deer food plants."

When they say "unfortunately," it is because their audience is hunters who wish to attract deer, but it clearly indicates that deer don't do bermudagrass.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is all about the use of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which the plants are being grown. The Center has recently developed a very fine native lawn grass called Habiturf that is a low water use that does very well in Central Texas. Please read our How-To Article on Habiturf, which includes information on how to plant and care for it. For more information, see our research results on Native Lawns.

To get back to your original question, no, we don't think you can just sprinkle seed over the existing dead sod. If only it were that easy. Another How-To Article in our arsenal is Native Lawns: Buffalograss. Buffalograss is one of the constituents in Habiturf, and its instructions on preparation of the soil and planting is the best we have seen.

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plants for xeriscape and shade
August 20, 2008 - I live in Jones county, Texas. I would like to xeriscape portions of my lawn. The soil is sandy, I have a lot of shaded lawn area. What plants do you recommend that would be low maintenace, low water ...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for shade in Austin
March 15, 2011 - I reside in 78739. Just moving here from So Cal (where all plants are perennials), I'm looking to create a good "Shade loving" Container for near my front door. I'm looking at 'Summer Wave' Wi...
view the full question and answer

Starting shade-tolerant ground covers in New York
September 10, 2013 - Hi, I have seen some of the posts for shade-tolerant ground cover on the east end of Long Island and my question is process related. Now that I've identified the grasses/plants I need to keep my fro...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees with a tap root
July 31, 2009 - I need a list of shade trees with a tap root system. I would also like the tree to grow at a medium to fast rate. I will be planting near a concrete wall and do not want the roots to do any damage to ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady sand in Florida
March 31, 2013 - We live in central Florida (directly between Orlando and Tampa). Our yard is mostly sand for soil and difficult parts in shade almost all day from large trees. What ground cover (grass) and hedges can...
view the full question and answer

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