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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - August 19, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Benefits of Habiturf from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have been reading about Habiturf and my question should be easy to answer. Is this is a grass you would recommend for kid play? Sitting on the lawn, kicking a soccer ball, etc. Any information about the types of activities this lawn can withstand from humans would be great. thanks

ANSWER:

Absolutely. First, read this article from the August 12, 2013 New York Times. Arid Southwest Cities' Plea: Lose the Lawn.

I sent an e-mail to Mark Simmons, Director, Research and Consulting, Ecosystem Design Group, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, who led the effort to develop Habiturf. He responded to the Times with this e-mail:


"Certainly, lawns maintained conventionally are a landscape on life-support.  So lose the lawn or pay dearly. Or a third option – use native turfgrass species adapted to drought and low soil nutrients. Better still, use a blend of native species to form a lawn that effectively simulates a ‘miniature prairie’. We have been researching this alternative approach to lawns for the last 5 years and already it has been adopted by home-owners, campuses and even at the George W Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. If the bi-monthly watering stops, then this lawn turns a drought-dormant brown, but will recover when rains return. This may be unsightly to some, but a few months of brown is a better alternative to no lawn at all. My kids would rather play in temporary-brown lawn than among cacti and rocks. And I still want my deck-chair and beer on grass, not hot gravel."

That is, if you will, from the horse's mouth.

 

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