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

Replacing grass on steep hill in Georgia
June 16, 2009 - I live near Atlanta, Georgia. My yard is a steep hill, which makes mowing VERY challenging. If possible, I would like to remove the grass and plant something hardy that does not require mowing. What p...
view the full question and answer

Problems for plants growing over closed loop field of geothermal system
October 22, 2008 - We would like to install a geothermal heating/cooling system on our Wisconsin property. Are there any environmental problems with the heat that is put back in the earth from a geothermal system? We ...
view the full question and answer

Tolerance to foot traffic for native turf grass
December 16, 2010 - I have read your articles on your mix of three native seeds for turf grass and on other native grasses but am left with a couple of lingering questions. We have about a 600 sq. ft area we want to plan...
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine grass with native grasses in Georgetown TX
October 28, 2009 - I have a St Augustine yard around my house. I would like to introduce or replace this type of grass with some of the Buffalo, Blue Gamma and or Curly Mesquite. Can I plant some of the native seed in...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grass next to golf course pond
August 26, 2013 - I need an ornamental grass or shrub that will grow on a terrace next to a golf course pond and be ~ 3' of height. The plant will receive afternoon sun, must survive periodic flooding in the spring an...
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