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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Friday - January 20, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Will Habiturf work in Houston?
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

I am looking to plant the parking strip between the sidewalk and street - about 6-7 feet wide. Would Habiturf work in Houston. The webside lists areas of Texas, but wasn't sure if Houston was included.

ANSWER:

I talked with Mark Simmons, the Director of the Ecosystem Design Group here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, who is in charge of the Habiturf development and research.  He says that Habiturf hasn't yet been researched for growing in the Houston area; but, he says that if the soil in the strip has good drainage, it might work just fine.  Since Houston's average annual rainfall is a little over 51 inches and Austin's (where the grass has mostly been tested) is around 33 inches, your soil is more likely to become saturated and that doesn't work well for this mix of grasses that normally grows in the drier soils of the more western part of Texas.   Additionally, the extra moisture would encourage the growth of weeds.  The native mix is successful in out-competing weeds in drier soils, but with more water is not likely to be as successful.  So, if your soil has good drainage, or you can make it so, and you are willing to pull a few weeds until the grass is well-established, I'd say "go for it" as long as the area gets 1 to 6 hours of sun per day (defined as part shade).  The mixture is not successful in full shade. 

The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the planning stage.  Hopefully, we will soon have native turf grasses specific to your area to recommend.

 

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