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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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Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Poolville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: New gardener on lawn for Poolville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have never had the opportunity to have a nice yard until recently when I got married. My husband loves a nice yard and we have worked very hard and put in hours of work. We are learning by trial and error. I am certain we have a lot to learn yet. My question is, since I think the foundation is the most important part of a nice yard what are the steps I need to take to get the grass healthy and thick? I live in sandy, central Texas and our 1 acre yard has lots of Bullneddle and weeds.

ANSWER:

First, let's talk about what's in your yard now. From Flora of the Rolling Plains, here is an article about Texas Bull-Nettle. We hope you have invested in a pair of sturdy leather garden gloves.

There are several unanswered questions from your e-mail. First, what is the sunlight situation? If you have 6 hours or more of sun where you want your lawn, that simplifies matters some. If you have part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun) native grass is going to be a challenge.

Before we start getting into detail, can we suggest you read some of our How-To Articles and previous Mr. Smarty Plants questions that might help you make the decisions about the early steps:

Native Lawns: Habiturf - The Ecological Lawn  Note this phrase from the first part of that webpage:

"The Wildflower Center has developed a mixture of native grass species that works well in dry regions of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. Here are instructions for establishing a native lawn for these climates." We believe that Parker County, in north Central Texas, would probably qualify.

You need to consider how to get rid of what is already there, and would inhibit attempts to establish any lawn. Read this article on Solarization from About.com: Landscaping. This, if you have a full sun yard, should be the first project. This only works if you are doing it in hot weather and using a clear plastic, to permit the heat of the sun to basically cook the offending weeds.Be sure and read carefully the whole article on the Habiturf, because planting it involves far more than just sprinkling seeds, but it will pay you back in lower costs for watering and maintenance.

Since you are a new gardener, we would like for you to read some more How-To Articles that will help you get off on the right track:

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening

When is a Guest a Pest?

Caring for your New Native Plants

Addressing Texas Invasive Plants

These should get you started and maybe when you have made your lawn decision you can get back to us and we'll help you find appropriate plants in our Native Plant Database.

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Poolside plants for East Texas
June 18, 2015 - What are the best plants, shrubs, ornamental trees, etc. for poolside planting in East Texas?
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Habiturf care from Plano TX
July 03, 2014 - Five weeks ago, we planted a Habiturf lawn in our back yard. The grass looks great and is already about 6 inches. I have two questions to solve before we do the front yard. We have lots of purslane m...
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Native lawn grass for Seabrook TX
March 12, 2013 - We want to seed our lawn in Seabrook, Tx.77586 with a Natural Grass replacing our St. Augustine Grass. I think there is one that is drought resistant (only water it twice a month.) and that does not g...
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Burning back Gulf Muhly instead of trimming from San Antonio
December 19, 2011 - A few years ago I noticed that the Center burned back its Gulf Muhly rather than cutting it back. Did that study result in any conclusions or recommendations?
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Identification of native grasses little bluestem and switchgrass
August 09, 2007 - If you drive east of Austin on Hwy 71, there is a bluish looking grass that has become very noticeable since the heavy rains in July. The blades grow straight up and each plant is in clump form. Do ...
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