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

Cutting Juncus effusus back from Bellevue WA
November 18, 2010 - I read your posts about Juncus effusus and just have one follow-up question. When is the best time to cut them back to the ground - before winter or early spring? I live in the Pacific NW. I recent...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for a slope from New Carrollton MD
June 27, 2012 - My house (Maryland, near DC) sits at the bottom of a south facing slope. The soil is very heavy clay. The grade is about 1:20 for about 100 feet (with a steeper part at the top). Part of the hill is i...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for hill in Saint Mary's County, Maryland
September 18, 2010 - Is there a native grass or grasses I can mow on a hill that faces south and is too large to water in Saint Marys County, Maryland?
view the full question and answer

Difficult slope in Tarrytown NY
March 03, 2009 - I hope you can help. Is there a way to plant some native shrubs and plants on a steep slope that is filled in some areas with rock without having to tier the slope? The section is approximately 50' w...
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine with native grass in Austin
February 24, 2012 - We are renting a house our Sister-in-law owns- the St Augustine is in tough shape, drought and lack of care over the years. Could we plant a native grass or do we have to pull up the remaining St. Aug...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center