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 - July 25, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area. In some of your 2012 responses, you stated that "The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the planning stage. Hopefully, we will soon have native turf grasses specific to your area to recommend." Do you have any suggestions at this time for this question? Also, can you distinguish between recommended grasses for areas that receive 6-8 hours of sun per day versus more shaded areas? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Dr. Mark Simmons, Director, Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says that, unfortunately, this research is still in the planning stage.  Likely candidates for turf grasses are the Paspalum species.  Florida has been researching these as well as several other   species for use as turfgrasses in Florida.   You can read about their research in:

Jenkins, A. M; D. R. Gordon and M. T. Renda.  Native Alternatives for Non-Native Turfgrasses in Central Florida:  Germination and Responses to Cultural Treatments.  Restoration Ecology Volume 12, Issue 2 (June 2004): pp. 190-199.

and in two publications for the Florida Department of Transportation:

Florida Native Turfgrass Investigation by D. R. Gordon, A. A. Miller, M. T. Renda, J. L. Slapcinsky and D. A. Jones.

Florida Native Turfgrass Investigation II

Here are some of the grasses they have investigated:

Paspalum vaginatum (Seashore paspalum) and here is information from the Florida Native Plant Society and from Natives for Your Neighborhood from the Institute for Regional Conservation, Delray Beach, Florida.

Paspalum distichum (Knotgrass) and  here is information from Pennsylvania State University.

Sorobolus virginicus (Seashore dropseed) and here is information from Natives for Your Neighborhood  from the Institute for Regional Conservation, Delray Beach, Florida.

Eustachys petraea (Pinewoods fingergrass) and here is information from Natives for Your Neighborhood.

Eragrostis refracta (Coastal lovegrass) and here is information from Florida Grasses of Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

It is possible that some of these are available in nurseries that specialize in native plants in your area.   You can find sources of native plants from the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) in their Native Plant Guide.  The Guide also has many other useful topics concerning native plants for the Houston area. 

Regarding the part of your question about distinguishing "between recommended grasses for areas that receive 6-8 hours of sun per day versus more shaded areas", in general, most grasses grow best in full sun or in partial shade.  There are very few grasses that will grow in full shade. Grasses that are included in our Native Plant Database usually have information under Growing Conditions that gives the Light Requirement for the particular species. One native grass (not a turf grass) that does well in full shade and grows in Harris County is Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats).  If you are looking for an evergreen grass-like groundcover that grows well in part shade, you might consider Carex texensis (Texas sedge). Indeed, you might check the "Native Groundcovers" list on the Houston Chapter of NPSOT's Native Plant Guide for possibilites of a groundcover or groundcovers to use on your lawn instead of non-native turf grass until we have recommendations for a native turfgrass for the Houston area.

 

More Turf Questions

Replacing lawn in Taylor, Texas
May 28, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Texas, just northeast of Austin, in the Blackland Prairie region. However, I do not live on a farm, but in town on a city lot of 1/3 acre. My soil is clayey, and currently I have a L...
view the full question and answer

Blocking stolons of St. Augustine grass
July 25, 2008 - I have St. Augustine in my yard, and I am sick of edging the stolons that grow onto the sidewalk and driveway. Is there any way to stop the stolons or block them so that I can just mow and throw away ...
view the full question and answer

Mixture of native grasses as opposed to buffalo grass monoculture
November 26, 2003 - My husband and I just built our home on Lake Travis. Our lot is very rocky and is on the side of a hill. We would like to plant something on the incline at the front of our home that doesn't need a l...
view the full question and answer

Best grass for the shade in Austin, TX.
July 01, 2015 - What is the best grass seed for shade in Austin?
view the full question and answer

Removal of chickweed from lawns
April 06, 2007 - How do I get Cerastium arvense L. - field chickweed out of my lawn? How can I kill them without hurting my grass? I don't have a clue as to how they got into my lawn, but my lawn is the only one on...
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