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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Saturday - April 21, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Turf for high-traffic area in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am building a large soccer field at my preschool in Austin, TX in a full sun area. What type of grass would be best for me to use given that it will be a very high-traffic area with lots of direct sun? Thank you!

ANSWER:

The very best grass for a totally sunny situation would be Habiturf, developed by a team led by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. See also this How-To Article on Native Lawns: Habiturf - The Ecological Lawn.  In both cases, you will quickly see that preparation for the Habiturf planting and maintenance of it do not lend themselves to the pitter-patter of preschool feet. Much as we hate to concede this is a situation that cannot be helped by native plants, which is what the Wildflower Center and Mr. Smarty Plants are dedicated to, you may have to consider either a non-native (and potentially invasive) bermudagrass or something like pea gravel or mulch. Neither of those choices would be ideal for your purpose, as there could be a lot of skinned knees and scuffled mulch.

So, reluctantly, we refer you to Aggie Horticulture Bermudagrass. Texas A & M has long been known for developing grasses for playing fields, golf courses and generally heavy-use plants. Ordinarily, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center would not recommend anything non-native, but this is a problem with putting in a new turf of any kind, whether or not it will take extensive traffic.

 

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