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
4 ratings

Wednesday - October 17, 2012

From: Bonsall, CA
Region: California
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Groundcover for Bonsall, CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Bonsall, CA. (San Diego) I have 3 acres, flat and sloped that are graded dirt. (DG and sheep poop from previous owner). It is getting close to mud season and I'd like to plant winter cover. Actually my first preference would be UC Verde Buffalo grass as permanent lawn but that is impossibly expensive. Last year I planted winter rye at $600. This year I'd like to try something different. Any chance there are winter wildflowers? Meadow of wildflowers and rye would be great. Need coverage Nov- beginning of summer.

ANSWER:

Since you speak about using UC Verde Buffalograss as a permanent lawn, I am assuming that your house must be situated somewhere in the three acres in question.  If that is so, why not plant the area immediately around your house in UC Verde Buffalograss this year.  Do as much as you can afford. It uses little water, is drought tolerant and very low maintenance.  It should continue growing and spreading and you can add more buffalograss next year and continue each year until you have a complete coverage of buffalograss. For the part that you don't plant with buffalograss this year, you could consider planting with native perennials--grasses and groundcovers--instead of the non-native annual winter rye grass.  On bewaterwise.com, the website from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and The Family of California Water Agencies, you will fine Leymus triticoides (Creeping or beardless wildrye) listed as a drought resistant native meadow grass.  You can read more about it in the Plant Guide from the NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) of the USDA.  Recon Native Plants in San Diego has plants of Leymus triticoides and Hedgerow Farms in Winters, CA has seeds for sale.  Larner Seeds in Bolinas, CA has a Golden State Native Grass Erosion Mix with three quick-growing, perennial native bunchgrasses native to Southern California—Hordeum brachyantherum (meadow barley), Bromus carinatus (California brome) and Elymus glaucus (blue wildrye)—that would be another possibility for the area where you don't plant buffalograss.

Check our National Suppliers Directory for nurseries and seed company specializing in native plants.   The San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society also has a list of Sources for Seeds and Bulbs of California Natives as well as other information that you might find useful.

Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarita has been specializing in native plants since the 1970s.  Their website has recommendations for lots of different situations.  If you want to intersperse the grasses with perennial groundcovers, they have lists of plants for flat native ground cover and for 1-2 foot ground cover pages.

By the way, the sheep poop should be great fertilizer if it's not full of weed seeds, but I'm afraid I don't know what DG is??

 

 

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Need help fighting grass burs in La Grange, TX.
January 22, 2013 - I have 4 acres of wildflowers planted in my front yard. Unfortunately, grassburs have crept in & I need to control them with a pre-emergent. Will this keep the wildflowers from blooming? Also, would l...
view the full question and answer

Pruning pink skullcap and rock daisy from Austin
February 06, 2013 - I have some pink skullcap and rock daisy and other plants in my yard that never entirely die back over the winter. Can you tell me what kind of pruning is appropriate? How far can/should I cut them ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent creekside erosion in Nacogdoches County, Texas
December 09, 2014 - I am looking for some advice on plants native to Texas that can help prevent erosion. I own a wooded lot with a creek and would like to consolidate the sides of the creek against potential erosion. I...
view the full question and answer

Information on orchid Spiranthes odorata from Golden MS
December 06, 2011 - I live in N.W. MS and am fortunate enough to receive 'Wildflower'. Even though it's geared to TX I was wondering if you can provide me information on the Spiranthes odorata that sprang up in my yar...
view the full question and answer

Indian Paintbrush outnumbering our Bluebonnets this year.
May 26, 2015 - We noticed we have more Indian paintbrush than bluebonnets in our front yard this year. Our issue is we also have more spear grass than normal. Is there a way to control this grass without killing th...
view the full question and answer

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