Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?


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

Monday - March 09, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Quick and EZ way to cover bare spots in lawn with grass
Answered by: Guy Thompson


We recently had to dig up our lawn to have a pipe replaced. We now have a long strip of our yard that is either dug up or covered by some of the dirt that is dug up. We want to fill in the grass. We live in Austin and I'm not sure what kind of grass we have--it's mostly crab grass and weeds with lots of cracks in the dirt and dry patches. Can we cover the hole with native grasses without digging up the whole yard and starting over? If we used buffalo grass on the dug up part, will it look drastically different from the rest of our lawn? Would the buffalo grass and current grass eventually intermingle and look fine? Should we use seeds or sod? What's the best time of the year to do it. The house we are talking about is one we rent out--we don't live there and don't have the time or money to totally redo the lawn until a year and 1/2 from now when we move back. Need some sort of quick repair we can do in one day.


It doesn't seem likely that you will spend the time to do this job right.  The easiest course for you to take is to plant Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss).  The proper way to plant this grass is described in a Wildflower Garden Center article that you can find in the How To Articles section.  But since that requires an investment in time and effort I will recommend that after the soil temperature reaches about 70 degrees Fahrenheit you simply rake the bare areas level, broadcast  Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) seed over the area (2-4 pounds of seed per 1000 ft sq.), sprinkle a little fine compost to barely cover the seed and water thoroughly.  The germination will be much better if you then keep the area moist for a week or ten days to prevent the sprouting seed from drying out.

The other weedy grass and forbs will soon migrate into the newly seeded areas, so the lawn will not look much different than now.  But I wouldn't expect it to look "fine".  That will come only after you do a proper job later.





More Planting Questions

Horseherb planting in Richardson, TX
October 18, 2014 - What is the best time to plant 4" pots of Horseherb?
view the full question and answer

Need help with my Mountain Laurel in Sugarland, TX
June 22, 2011 - Texas Mountain Laurel - My plant's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I don't know if this is caused from over watering or under watering. I have skipped days of watering to see if it will h...
view the full question and answer

Sun loving plants for flower bed by the pool in Weatherford Texas
October 03, 2011 - We have a 40' long x 2 1/2' wide flowerbed along our pool. It is in full sun with the pool deck across the front and a 6' privacy fence across back. Also, the level of the bed is 18" below the l...
view the full question and answer

Moving "lily of the valley" from MD to TX. Is that OK?
January 17, 2012 - My question pertains to lily of the valley. From your database, I learned that it is a native plant but only the following states were listed: GA , KY , NC , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV. I am moving from...
view the full question and answer

Best wildflowers for Lamar County TX
February 02, 2012 - What are the best wildflowers for northeast Tx? We live right below the Red River just north of Paris. Can they only be planted by seed in the fall? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

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