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
1 rating

Saturday - June 29, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Tall native grasses for privacy in Central Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hi- I am looking for a grass that will grow tall and be thick for privacy. I live here in Austin east of 35. Obviously something draught tolerant would be great! Thank you!

ANSWER:

I can suggest several native grass species that grow 6-8 feet tall and are relatively drought resistant once established.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) is my top choice if you have alkaline soil (limestone or caliche).  It matures into large clumps that remain attractive year-round.

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) would also be good and adapts to a variety of soil types.  It's clumps may be a bit thinner that those of Lindheimer's muhly.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), when planted in mass, produces a specacular show of tall yellow flowers.  But the grass is rather short until the blooming season in late summer and fall.

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) grows to about 6 feet in a wide variety of soil types.  To my taste, the clumps have a rather untidy appearance compared with the other three species.

Click on each of these grass names to view information about them on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database.  Shown below are images of the grasses I mentioned.  Seeds for the grasses can be obtained at Native American Seeds, and some of them may be available as established plants at local nurseries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Ground cover for a bank in PA
April 28, 2012 - I live in Landisburg, PA, (zone 6). I need to find some ground cover for a primarily full sun bank that is roughly 10-12' down over the embankment and up to 100' long. This area wraps around our po...
view the full question and answer

Due to drought is pruning live oaks beneficial from Houston
December 07, 2011 - Would it be beneficial (presuming a continued spring drought) to prune live oak trees more severely than usual this winter? I'm thinking that it might help them to have less mass to support.
view the full question and answer

Alternative to swamp sunflower for Austin
June 15, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I love this forum and have learned so much from it! Do you know of an alternative to Helianthus angustifolius L. (Swamp sunflower) that requires less water and would be m...
view the full question and answer

Low Ground Cover for Steep, Shaded PA Site
February 17, 2014 - I am located in Downingtown, PA, right on the border between Zone 6 and 7. Please provide a recommendation of a native ground cover for the following conditions: steep slope (greater than 45%), full s...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
June 18, 2012 - Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs a...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center