Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Monday - July 29, 2013

From: Odess,, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Watering, Grasses or Grass-like, Trees
Title: Native turf and trees for Odessa TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What native turf and trees can I grow in my Odessa, Tx back yard?

ANSWER:

We will begin with the turfgrass. You probably already know that most of the non-native turfgrasses need far more water than is justifiable to spend on lawns in West Texas. This member of the Smarty Plants Team grew up in West Texas in the 1950's, so we know well the kind of water problems you have. We would like for you to begin with reading all the information and watching the video that you will find on this site: Habiturf, the Ecological Lawn. You will learn from that site that it is made up of three grasses native to Texas and to the Ector County area. Here are links to our webpages on those three grasses; please follow each link to read up on their growing conditions, as well as soil, sunlight and water needs. Next to those links are links to the USDA Plant Profile Maps showing the counties in Texas where each grass grows naturally.

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) - Map grows naturally in in next-door Midland County

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) - Map grows naturally in Andrews County

Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass) - Map grows naturally nearby

The fact that a plant does not show up on a county map does not mean it won't grow there, it just means it has not been reported to the USDA as growing there. Please note that all three of these grasses are shown to need "Sun" to grow well. We consider "Sun" to be 6 hours or more of sun a day. We will go on to list some trees for you from our Recommended List of Species for the Texas High Plains. Using the specifications list on the right-hand side of that page, we will select "tree" for Habit. You can run the same search, adding such specifications as leaf retention (evergreen?), desired ultimate height range, etc. We are assuming your soil and soil moisture will be the same as plants on the list because they have been selected for that particular area.

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon)

Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)

Rhus lanceolata (Prairie flameleaf sumac)

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry)

Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm)

Now, we have finally answered your basic questions (why do the one-line questions always need the longest answers?) but we feel there is one more thing you need to consider. Remember we specified the turf grass Habiturf needed lots of sun. If you plant trees, as they grow they will cast more and more shade and their roots will need more and more room and water as they grow. Also, you need to measure the amount of shade cast by existing structures (like your house, fences, etc.). Since, if you follow the instructions for Habiturf you won't be planting the grass until Spring, and since we recommend planting woody plants (trees and shrubs) from November to January in Texas, you have a while to make your preparations and decisions.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Prairie flameleaf sumac
Rhus lanceolata

Western soapberry
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

More Trees Questions

Problems with a Cercis (Redbud)
August 25, 2014 - Half of my redbud tree is pooped out looking. On two places on the bark are areas where a few layers of bark have pulled back. In these areas there are white growths.
view the full question and answer

Problems with Ashe juniper from Lakeway TX
May 25, 2013 - Dear Sir/Madam, I have been living for the last three years in Lakeway, Texas approximately 20 miles west of Austin. In my back garden there are several ashe junipers about 15-20ft tall. However...
view the full question and answer

Lack of fruit on Texas persimmon
July 08, 2008 - I have several Texas Persimmons on my property, most have nodules covering most of the leaves that I am presuming to be insect eggs. Between my neighbor and I we have over a dozen of these tress grow...
view the full question and answer

Trees and other plants for privacy along lake shoreline
March 09, 2013 - We are purchasing a new home that has a 2 acre lake. We would like to add some plants/trees for privacy around the shore line. Can you suggest something that would fill in nicely and is strong enoug...
view the full question and answer

Will wood shavings in the soil require nitrogen from Charleston MO
May 04, 2011 - I cut down a big maple tree and a lot of the wood shavings was left in the soil. I planted a flower bed over the area this spring. I later read that the wood chips in the soil would use a lot of nitro...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.