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

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


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


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

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

Trophy tree for Spicewood, Texas
September 30, 2008 - I want to plant a trophy Mesquite at the bottom of the hill, in Spicewood. I'm told that it may not flourish, because of the soil in my area. If that is the case, what would be a striking tree as a...
view the full question and answer

Landscape color for Rialto, CA
May 11, 2009 - My sister-in-law lives in Rialto CA near the base of the San Bernardino Mt ranges and it gets very windy out there. She and I were trying to figure out the best native plants for her area. Her home fa...
view the full question and answer

Ashe Juniper not doing well in San Antonio
April 08, 2010 - A large ash juniper (mountain cedar) in my yard appears to be sick or dying. Approximately 1/4 of the canopy has very sparse needles/green foliage stuff and shaggier than normal bark. It's not brown ...
view the full question and answer

Is Esperanza a deciduous or an evergreen plant?
March 08, 2009 - I've read that Esperanza/Tecoma Stans is an evergreen. I planted one last year that seemed very healthy, but it dropped its leaves in late fall and looks (at least) dormant now. Will it come back o...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping plant for Austin
September 01, 2011 - Great site! Have gotten lots of ideas. We're about to start construction on a fairly major landscaping project: raised beds/privacy screen. We're at the top of a hill in the Hill Country just wes...
view the full question and answer

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