Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - July 04, 2011

From: Laredo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Groundcover for Laredo Texas
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am in Laredo, TX and no longer want to waste water on grass. I would like to pull it all out and plant native, drought resistant ground cover - low growing, between 6-12 inches, sun and partial shade. Any suggestions? Thank you

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plants thinks that’s a good choice and that you have lots of options.

First of all, if you want something close to your grass, but marvelously thrifty on water and effort, you should consider a multi-species buffalo grass lawn mix.   The multi-species buffalo grass mix lawn is one of the Wildflower Center's favored lawn approaches. There has been quite a bit of funded research aimed at this, and this article summarizes both the findings of that research and our recommendations for lawn care. The short version of the result is: "We have found that a mix of Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) needs less mowing, watering and weeding and simulates nature's shortgrass prairies. Although different species, these grasses have almost identically shaped leaves and color and produce a great-looking, even-textured, dense lawn".  All of these grasses are recommended species for South Texas.

If you’d like to experiment in a ground cover mix that is a bit less lawn–like and emphasizes a mixture of native plants, we have a list of recommended species that is specific to the South Texas Plains.  These can be searched for herbs that are roughly a foot high.  There is a number of plants that fit this description, should do well and require little care.  Here are a few of them :

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)

Glandularia canadensis (Rose vervain)

Macrosiphonia lanuginosa var. macrosiphon (Plateau rocktrumpet)

Phlox glabriflora (Rio grande phlox)

Sisyrinchium sagittiferum (Blue-eyed grass)

Please note that only a few of these do well in the FULL Texas sun!

 

From the Image Gallery


Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys



Rio grande phlox
Phlox glabriflora

More Turf Questions

Buffalograss as lawn replacement in Austin, TX
March 12, 2007 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have just moved into a house that has a yard full of weeds. I was planning on killing the existing ground cover and starting buffalo grass, when I came upon several articles on...
view the full question and answer

Watering schedule for sod lawn
November 23, 2008 - We just moved to Georgetown, TX, where we have a 2-month old sod lawn (NOT Zoysia) that appears to becoming fairly well-established. We want to conserve water for environmental and financial reasons....
view the full question and answer

Alternative for HABITURF® in Los Angeles County, CA
December 04, 2014 - The Habiturf brochure has a map indicating appropriate locales for growing this lawn. Excluded from the appropriate range is Southern California, where I live. Is Habiturf not recommended for this reg...
view the full question and answer

Sowing grass for shaded lawn in Texas
February 04, 2008 - I'm renting a home for short period of time, hence I would like to make this as simple, but as beneficial as possible. The backyard soil is degraded and compacted so I would like to try and use a "...
view the full question and answer

Low sedge for lawn in Bakersfield, CA
June 19, 2009 - We have a small area for a lawn, but would like to get away from a traditional "lawn". Can you recommend a sedge grass that would act like a lawn (not much foot traffic)that can be mowed once in a w...
view the full question and answer

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