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?

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
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

Sunday - October 06, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Problems with non-native St. Augustine lawn from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have St. Augustine in our front lawn. There are some patches where the grass has entirely died but mixed in with the dead areas are little clumps of living grass. It seems to be spreading throughout our lawn, slowly but surely. My husband has checked for grubs but found none. I'd love to send you a picture, if that is possible. Thanks for any advice!!

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plant is being grown; in your case, Travis County, TX. Stenotaphrum secundatum (St. Augustine grass) is native to Africa and is therefore out of our realm of expertise.

We can, however, give you some unsolicited and perhaps unwelcome advice. Lose the lawn. On August 12, 2013 the New York Times ran an article: Arid Southwest Cities Plea - Lose the Lawn. We suggest you read it.

Specifically on the subject of St. Augustine grass, it sucks up water like a sponge, is susceptible to a number of insects and diseases, and is expensive to maintain. More and more of our correspondents are telling us they are so over lawns. Please also read this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on the same subject, and follow some more links in it. We realize we are repeating the same message over and over but everyone who watches the evening news on television knows that the weather report is going to include pictures of our shrinking lakes, which represent shrinking water supplies in Austiin. All of us long-time Texas gardeners share the hope that the next season will be a rainy one and break the drought. All us lifelong Texas natives know that it ain't necessarily so.

Think how smug and far-seeing you will be when the order to shut off the outdoor faucets permanently comes out and you already have a pleasant outdoor environment that does not need sprinkler systems.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native Grasses for Quebec
August 21, 2014 - I saw an article in the Martha Stewart magazine on native grasses. I live in Canada in Rimouski, in the province of Quebec. I am wondering if native grasses would grow here in the region? Our hardine...
view the full question and answer

Low-maintenance grass for retention pond
December 21, 2012 - I would like to know what would be a low-growing grass to put down for a water retention pond. We have clay and rocky soil. The incline of the sides of the retention pond are about 20 feet with gra...
view the full question and answer

Need to stabilize a south facing slope in Henderson, NC
April 30, 2010 - Hi, I have a south facing slope that is heavy clay with rock under it. It gets a lot of sun. I have planted a few bushes and some ground cover, but with all the snow and rain we had this past winter, ...
view the full question and answer

Is Sedum recommended for a greenroof project in Houston
July 23, 2008 - Would you recommend using Sedum for a green roof project in Houston, Texas? Will the humidity effect the sedum? If sedum would be a poor choice, what would you recommend for Houston?
view the full question and answer

Native wildflower habitat for North Carolina
January 24, 2007 - I am from North Carolina and have been gradually establishing a wildflower spring garden. I now have a beautiful display of bluets and cornflowers that grace my front yard in the spring. Most of this...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center