En Español

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

Thursday - October 12, 2006

From: Mansfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native alternatives to St. Augustine for under an Arizona Ash
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Mansfield, TX. We have a large Arizona Ash tree in our back yard. No grass will grow under it. We are thinking of laying sod (St. Augustine) there. Is this a good solution and if so, when is the best time of year to do this? Thanks!

ANSWER:

St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) might grow under your Arizona ash tree, but it will require frequent watering and mowing. Also, it is affected by several insect pests and diseases. Spring, after the danger of frost, is the best time to lay the sod so that it has warmer and lengthening growing days to establish itself before the heat of summer.

You might like to consider some less water-thirsty plants that will do well in the shade. An alternative ornamental grass that does well in the shade is Inland sea oats. The seed heads are attractive in flower arrangements. Another grass with ornamental seed heads that will grow in the shade is Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis). Sedges, such as Meadow Sedge (Carex perdentata) and Texas Sedge (Carex texensis), do well in dry shade and require little or no mowing. You can read about using sedges for lawns in the article, "Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape".

Other possibilites are non-grass ground covers such as Pigeon Berry (Rivina humilis), Texas Frogfruit, (Phyla nodiflora) Golden groundsel (Packera obovata), or White Avens (Geum canadense).

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Best way to plant sedges on a slope in Fairfax, VA.
March 20, 2012 - Best way to plant sedges on a slope. WE are in the LONG process of trying to convert our backyard to a native wildlife friendly habitat. The slope is about 30 degress and it's a large space 1/2 acr...
view the full question and answer

The effect of plant growth regulators (PGRs) on tall grass species
January 25, 2009 - I have a question about some established native grass areas that we have on our golf course in eastern Missouri. For the past eight or nine years we have been working hard to transition these areas f...
view the full question and answer

Potential ecosystem benefits to Carex flaccosperma
December 06, 2014 - Hi, I am trying to find out if there are any ecosystem benefits associated with the plant Carex flaccosperma: Blue wood sedge?
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Source for nitrates and phosphorus (P205) for lawn care
July 04, 2008 - I recently supplied soil samples from my back yard to my local extension here in Austin. I have a hybrid Bermuda turf grass (TIF 419) that has had its share of ups and downs, and wanted to assess the ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center