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
1 rating

Thursday - December 16, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Tolerance to foot traffic for native turf grass
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 plant with turf grass out back for the kids to play on. There is no grass at present. This area is shaded about half the day and in fill sun the rest. Does the mix of three grasses you recommend stand up to heavy foot traffic? Would it work here with our shade-sun combo? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), the main component of the three-seed-mix of turf grasses, according to our How to Article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, is "extremely hardy, and can tolerate moderate foot traffic".  The other two components,  Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass), should be similar.  'Moderate' foot traffic is, of course, open to interpretation; but on the durability aspect, I think I would give it a try for your lawn.  You would need to keep foot traffic to a very minimum, however, until the grass is well-established.  The sun issue, though, may be a problem.  All three grasses do require lots of sunlight.  If your lawn doesn't get at least 6 hours of sun per day, they will probably not do well.  You could use the turf grass mixture in areas of your lawn that do get abundant sunshine and use alternative groundcover for the shadier areas.  Here are some possibilities for shade-tolerant groundcovers:

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)

Packera obovata (Golden groundsel)

You may have already read them; but if not, you probably would find the following articles helpful:

Native Lawns:  Multi-species

Native Lawns

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides


Bouteloua gracilis


Hilaria belangeri


Carex planostachys


Carex texensis


Calyptocarpus vialis


Phyla nodiflora


Packera obovata

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Trimming inland sea oats from Waco TX
January 30, 2013 - Re: Inland Sea Oats and trimming back in early spring "It passes through most of winter a soft brown, but becomes tattered and gray by February, a good time to cut it back to the basal rosette." ...
view the full question and answer

The effect of plant growth regulators (PGRs) on tall grass species
January 25, 2009 - I have a question about some established native grass areas that we have on our golf course in eastern Missouri. For the past eight or nine years we have been working hard to transition these areas f...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for moist, steep hillside in Tupelo MS
July 01, 2010 - I have a very steep bank that I have pampas grass planted in spots. It must be a natural spring in the bank because it stays very wet and runs into the street below. Can you suggest something to pla...
view the full question and answer

Controlling weeds in Habiturf lawn
May 16, 2015 - What's the best way to get rid of weeds in a Habiturf lawn? Habiturf seems like a great idea, but even with no extra water and no fertilizer, it seems the weeds take over - K.R. Bluestem and various...
view the full question and answer

Plants for yard in Sweetwater, Texas
March 19, 2010 - What plants or grass would you suggest for an area that that is located on the east side of our house - full sun morning through noon, then it's shaded the remainder of the day.. Thanks!!
view the full question and answer

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