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?

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

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
2 ratings

Friday - April 24, 2009

From: Greenville, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Planting grass seed in Greenville SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What type of grass seed is best to use in a sunny/ shady area where some grass is already growing? And how is the best way to prep the area for seed and fertilizer or what should I do before and after spreading seed?

ANSWER:

This is a pretty wide-ranging question, and whole books have been written to answer it. We are going to find some information for you from sources that know more about what they are talking about than we do, and then we are going to suggest native grasses for South Carolina. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Most of the grasses presently in use for lawns are non-native, some are invasive, and most require a lot of fertilizer, water and maintenance. Most of the native grasses are not mowed, but grow to be graceful features of a garden area.

Let us get you started on this subject by recommending you read a couple of our How-To Articles: Using Native Plants and Native Lawns. Also, notice the Bibliographies with these articles; you might be able to pick up some good books on the subject at your Library or bookstore.

Now, some references found on the Internet: Planting a new lawn from seed, from the website Dummies.com. Please don't be insulted by the name of the website, it really was the best information we could find. Most of the lawn websites are from companies who are specifically selling a particular grass seed or type of grass or even lawn care; we were looking for something a little more unbiased. Another good source for local gardening information is the Clemson University Extension Office for Greenville Co.  Their home page has contact information and website. They will not necessarily recommend native grasses, as we are going to, but they probably have publications on specific methods of planting a lawn. Follow the plant links below to the webpage on each individual grass, read other information on it, including propagation methods, amount of water needed, etc.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - perennial, warm season grass, 4 to 8 ft. tall, sun to part shade

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft. tall, sun, part shade

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)- perennial, deciduous, 1 to 3 ft. tall, sun

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - perennial, 10 to 18 inches tall, part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - perennial, 10 to 12 inches tall, sun, part shade

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - perennial, 2 to 4 ft. tall, part shade, shade

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft., sun

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - perennial, 18 to 24 inches, sun, part shade


Chasmanthium latifolium


Carex texensis

Bouteloua hirsuta

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua curtipendula

Andropogon gerardii


Muhlenbergia capillaris

 


Schizachyrium scoparium
 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Request for native grasses from Hillsboro TX
August 04, 2012 - P.S. I forgot to mention one very important fact: my neighbor specifically asked for "native grass" recommendations. He thought he was getting a native grass recommendation.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for burned acreage in Bastrop, Texas
October 31, 2011 - The fire took 2/3 of the trees on my half acre in Bastrop County. It was mostly wild. What do I plant for ground cover? Do I plant native grass seed in fall? I want to keep it native as possible. ...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for dry bottom detention ponds
December 15, 2007 - I am working on a project for my HOA in order to reduce mowing costs and to beautify our neighborhood. We were wondering if you could help us find people knowledgeable about dry bottom detention pond...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf for shady areas in San Antonio TX
November 08, 2013 - Will the Habiturf grass mentioned here do well in shady areas too?
view the full question and answer

drought-resistant turf grasses for New York City
June 16, 2011 - Hi - I work at the Smithsonian in New York City and we have a very large lawn that is frequently used in the summer for programming. It gets very beat up. I read an article in teh New York Times about...
view the full question and answer

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