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?

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
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 - May 02, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Xeriscapes, Diseases and Disorders, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Dying non-native St. Augustine grass from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Although we all know St. Augustine grass is not a good thing, I am stuck with it and am trying to save areas that appear to have take-all fungus. I have done much reading online and have tried peat moss in the areas of dead and dying grass to no avail. Do you have any other suggestions?

ANSWER:

From a previous Mr, Smarty Plants answer:

"More and more, we are encouraging gardeners to move away from grass or formal lawn, especially in drought-stricken Texas, and more especially, shady lawns. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that might point you in some good directions. From another Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

We would suggest you consider putting something else beneath those trees and perhaps embark on a process of xeriscaping. From eartheasy, here is an excellent article on Xeriscape. Obviously, you do not have to do every single thing suggested for xeriscaping, but you can start small and work your way up. Without knowing exactly what else is going on in your garden, we would suggest covering the offending roots and bare ground with a nice layer of mulch. Please read our How-To Article Under Cover with Mulch.

A good quality shredded bark mulch will make a nice cool surface for the ground, sheltering the tree roots from heat and the sun, discouraging weeds from sprouting and preserving moisture in the soil. It will tend to scatter or decompose, sinking into the soil and making it healthier, over time, but it's an easy fix to spread some more on the area. And it doesn't have to be mowed. We had one letter from a homeowner this week that said they were so over grass, and we feel, in this hot, dry climate, that may be a very good idea."

Since Mr. Smarty Plants only deals in native plants, we really can't help you with the fungus. If you live in an HOA that mandates a certain percentage of grass and/or St. Augustine you may have to see if you can get an exception. Spending time and money on a non-native that is probably not going to survive anyway doesn't help anyone. If you are having these problems others around you probably are, too. If you have at least 5 hours of sun on the lawn area, please read our information on Habiturf: The Ecological Lawn.

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Care of buffalo grass after wet season
August 15, 2007 - I'm asking for your advice on what to do with my buffalo grass lawn. With all this rain, I've managed to pull the weeds as they pop up in my front yard, and it looks good, except for a couple of...
view the full question and answer

Non-allergenic landscape in Fairfield, CT
April 18, 2009 - I live in Fairfield, CT and need to have a non-allergenic landscape. Can you please list plants, ground covers, and trees/shrubs that would be beautiful, and help in this critical situation? The lan...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses or sedges for a border in Texas
August 12, 2011 - I am in the process of gradually replacing some of my landscaping in Dallas Texas with native Texas plants. Your website has been very helpful. I now wish to replace a liriope border, which has cro...
view the full question and answer

Thicken clumps of Panicum virgatum in Stafford VA
July 22, 2009 - I am growing Panicum Virgatum varieties that will be transplanted in September to form a Native American maze project. I have given the quart size starts a root fertilizer when I planted them to try ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center