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

Sunday - September 29, 2013

From: Godley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Bunch grasses for labyrinth that are good for livestock
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm designing an outdoor labyrinth that will be in full sun in our black Slidell clay soil here in north central Texas. The area MAY be mowed for hay at a later date (i.e. post-drought). To define the 12-inch-wide borders of the pathways, I am thinking a native perennial bunch grass along with annual wildflowers would be appropriate as well as "fine in case of hay harvest." Would Texas grama and/or hairy tridens would be a good choice? Am I missing another likely candidate for a native, low height, livestock-friendly border plant? Thank you so much!

ANSWER:

What an intriguing project!  You are in luck making your labyrinth in full sun because most grasses grow best in full sun.  The grasses you mentioned as well as the other ones recommended below will all grow in clay; however, you might want to consider some other bunch grasses that are more palatable for livestock.  You can see that the first two, the ones you mention, are both described as being poor grazing for livestock and wildlife.

 Erioneuron pilosum (Hairy tridens)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Poor grazing for livestock and wildlife."

Bouteloua rigidiseta (Texas grama)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Poor grazing for livestock and wildlife."

The following bunch grasses occur in Johnson County and you can see what the Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says about their grazing quality.  I've arranged them with the "good grazing" grasses first.

 Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Good grazing for both livestock and wildlife."

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)  Texas A&M Agrilife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Good grazing for livestock. Fair grazing for wildlife."

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)  Texas A&M Agrilife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Good grazing for livestock. Fair grazing for wildlife."

Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. oligosanthes (Heller's rosette grass)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that another closely-related variety, Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum, is "Fair grazing for livestock and wildlife."

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Fair grazing for livestock and wildlife."

Good luck with your project!

 

From the Image Gallery


Hairy woollygrass
Erioneuron pilosum

Texas grama
Bouteloua rigidiseta

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Heller's rosette grass
Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. oligosanthes

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Purchase sources of Buffalograss from Corpus Christi TX
March 17, 2012 - I've heard a lot of good things about Buffalograss, but no one in my area seems to carry it. One grower actually told me it didn't grow well here and recommended St. Augustine Floratam instead. Is ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf lawn for townhouse in Austin
October 06, 2013 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in central Austin and on November 1st I will be moving into a townhome with a small yard of around 500 square feet. The yard has been neglected and currently looks to ...
view the full question and answer

Viability of buffalo grass in Yuma, AZ
March 30, 2008 - Will Buffalo Grass grow in Yuma, AZ, where the temperature can go as high as 120 degrees in the summer?
view the full question and answer

Herbicide use in bluebonnet field in Blanco, TX
April 10, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Iíve been throwing bluebonnet seeds for 6 years on our property near Blanco, and when it rains, as it has this year...
view the full question and answer

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