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

Tuesday - February 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Xeriscapes, Groundcovers
Title: Grass installation with plugs from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


As much as I would love to use the seed mixture you suggest for Austin, I am not physically able to do the needed prep and was unable last year to get a professional. No one would even call me back when they learned what I wanted. Is there any grass I can install myself with plugs that is good for Austin? All I have now are weeds. My yards was totally ignored for many years before I bought the house. The Zoysia ads are enticing..


We can definitely sympathize with you on grass installation; it can be very hard work, and a lot of maintenance. We are going to suggest that you forget the lawn and convert your space to a xeriscape. As we mentioned, lawns can be labor and maintenance intensive, costing a lot of money for water and fertilizer just to keep them alive.

First, let's deal with those weeds, which are no doubt going to contest mightily for the space with your grass or whatever you plant. From About.com Landscaping, here is an article on Solarization: An Easy Method for Killing Weeds. Although this sounds like a lot or work, we assume you are not dealing with dead trees or large shrubs, just a weedy space. This is a fairly complex solution, needs to be done in the summer when it's hot enough to fry the weeds and the roots, and isn't attractive while it's underway. But you will then be able to start with a clean slate, more or less.

From Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener, here is an article on Dry Climate Landscaping.

We realize that all of our suggestions sound like a lot of work and expense, but they are all things you can do gradually, replacing the (hopefully dead) weeds with decomposed granite, and small beds of succulents or other plants that do well in our climate. The point is that grass of any kind is going to be difficult to plant, difficult to pay for the water to maintain it and difficult to keep alive in Austin.


More Xeriscapes Questions

Container Plants for Lubbock, Texas
June 22, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for plants suitable for container gardening for a west facing porch in Lubbock. Plants need to be super tough to endure the baking sun, constant wind, dry air, extreme temperatures...
view the full question and answer

climbing vine for growth in sand
July 11, 2012 - I live in Grand Beach, MI. My house sits on a sand dune. I want to plant a flowering vine that will grow up a fence. The area has plenty of sand and I have a trickle watering system. Can you pleas...
view the full question and answer

Non-native hylocereus undatus for Austin
February 24, 2012 - Can we plant Hylocereus (Dragon Fruit) here in Austin, TX? We are going to have a large xeriscape bed and want to know what all we can put in it. We are new to Texas so we have no clue what grows here...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under live oaks
June 18, 2012 - I have some areas under Live Oak trees (maybe 200 sq. ft.)that remain bare, in spite of trying Habiturf. Soil is dry, poor and shallow. Can you suggest a living ground cover that would not require m...
view the full question and answer

Need to plant something in the cracks in my patio in Skipperville, AL.
February 06, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I have a cement patio full of cracks. I would like to grow some sort of plant or plants in the cracks. I live in lower Alabama, and my patio is in full sunlight. Do you have an...
view the full question and answer

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