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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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Sunday - October 06, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for golf courses from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I may be working on two different golf courses and wanted to know if any native or hybrid native grasses would work for the fairways and rough areas? The rough areas are no problem as a number of grass species could work. The fairways have more specific requirements. They need to withstand traffic and mowing yet still provide enough coverage so the course is not overly fast (bouncy). I am considering some of the improved buffalo grasses and the hybrid Texas Blue grass like the improved forms of Reveille. Blue Grama may be a possibility but I am not sure how much it will fill in with constant mowing. Are there others I am overlooking?

ANSWER:

This is a little out of the realm of experience for Mr. Smarty Plants. For instance, here is an article from eHow on Golf Course Grass Types for Texas. None of the plants listed in this article are even native to North America, much less Central Texas.

Ryegrass - from Aggie Horticulture, Ryegrass, Temporary  Sports Turf for the South.

Zoysiagrass - from Aggie Horticulture Zoysiagrass

Bentgrass - from Aggie Horticulture Bentgrass

Aggie Horticulture Bermudagrass

Habiturf, developed by the Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is our recommended native turf grass. Please read this website from the Wildflower Center on Habiturf, and follow the link to instructions for installing and maintaining the grass, which is a mix of three native Texas grasses. In that linked article, under "Mowing" please note this line:

"Mow once every 3 to 5 weeks when growing and not at all when drought or cold dormant. Mowing shorter —2 inches or less— will damage your lawn's health."

Only you can judge if this grass will fulfill your requirements. Follow the three links below to our webpages on the three grass components of Habiturf for more information on each:

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss)

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama)

Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass)

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

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