En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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


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!


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

Privacy screen for Sedona AZ
August 02, 2013 - I live In Sedona Az. A builder just built a house next to my house and the new house is ugly to look at. What plant or tree would grow fast and reach 18 foot in height fast. It can be about 5 to 6 foo...
view the full question and answer

Tolerance to foot traffic for native turf grass
December 16, 2010 - I have read your articles on your mix of three native seeds for turf grass and on other native grasses but am left with a couple of lingering questions. We have about a 600 sq. ft area we want to plan...
view the full question and answer

Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
October 25, 2013 - When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Grasses in Allen County, Indiana
September 25, 2010 - Do you have images of Northeast Allen County, Indiana grass specimens with i.d.? I am a student teacher and am putting together a nature hunt list for my students. Thank-you,
view the full question and answer

Is there a recommended list for Texas Eastern Cross Timbers?
August 29, 2011 - Is there a recommended list for Texas Eastern Cross Timbers?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center