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Thursday - September 28, 2006

From: Wimberley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Drought Tolerant, Turf
Title: Environmentally friendly and drought resistant alternatives to St. Augustine grass
Answered by: Nan Hampton


As a member of the planning committee of our property owners association in Wimberley TX, we are researching ways to make our landscape environmentally friendly and drought resistant. We have 60,000 to 70,000 sq. ft. of St. Augustine that has to be watered, along with landscaping plants. Where do we start? Is there anyone who could come out and take a look at the property and help with this plan?


First, I suggest that you replace as much of your turf area as possible with wildflower meadows. With a careful selection of native grasses and spring-blooming, summer-blooming and fall-blooming wildflowers, you can create an area that is attractive year-round and requires a minimum of water and care. See the article, "Wildflower Meadow Gardening", in our Native Plant Library.

For those areas that must be maintained as turf, there are native alternatives to St. Augustine grass. Again, in the Native Plant Library, see the article, "Native Lawns", with instructions on how to install and maintain a buffalo grass lawn. Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) requires little water or mowing and thrives in sunny areas. Another possibility is a sedge (Carex spp.) lawn. Of the five sedges named in the article, "Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape", Meadow sedge or Texas Hill Country sedge is native to Hays County. Another sedge native to Hays County that should do well is Cedar sedge (Carex planostachys). Sedges grow well in shade.

The Kerrville Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas has an excellent list, Native Plants for Landscaping in the Texas Hill Country, with notes on size, rate of growth, deer resistance, and cultural requirements for each plant. The list offers recommendations in several categories of plants, including: Grasses, Vines, Ferns, Tree and Shrubs, Perennial Wildflowers, Annual Wildflowers and Cacti and Succulents.

Our National Suppliers Directory lists "Landscape Professionals" in your area who specialize in landscaping with native plants. You might also contact the Hays County Extension Office to get information about the Hays County Master Gardeners Association who might be able to assist you.


More Turf Questions

Blocking stolons of St. Augustine grass
July 25, 2008 - I have St. Augustine in my yard, and I am sick of edging the stolons that grow onto the sidewalk and driveway. Is there any way to stop the stolons or block them so that I can just mow and throw away ...
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Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
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Maple roots in lawn in Denton TX
June 03, 2010 - I purchased a new home 4 years ago that came with a landscape package. There are 2 trees in the front yard that I think are red maple trees. I am now seeing their roots appear above the ground which...
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Is it OK to recycle my kids bathwater out to the lawn?
July 23, 2009 - Is it OK for me to "recycle" my kids bathwater out to the lawn or houseplants? We use normal everyday brand kids soap. Thanks Mr. Smarty Plants
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Garden problems from Centreville VA
July 23, 2011 - Plants die, trees won't grow. I've replaced the soil (6") twice. Replaced grass twice and planted new plants and tree. After two yrs, the tree is still the same size and the flowering bushes nea...
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