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
3 ratings

Monday - June 18, 2012

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Xeriscapes, Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Ground cover under live oaks
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have some areas under Live Oak trees (maybe 200 sq. ft.)that remain bare, in spite of trying Habiturf. Soil is dry, poor and shallow. Can you suggest a living ground cover that would not require major rework of the soil?

ANSWER:

I have had the same experience as you, except my bare ground is under deciduous oaks, Quercus texana (Nuttall oak).  I am experimenting with several native plants that will survive drought.  I'm having pretty good luck with Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage), and Paspalum setaceum (Thin paspalum).  Some of the other sedges, such as Carex texensis (Texas sedge) and Carex amphibola (Creek sedge) might do well, although they might need slightly more water than Habiturf.  These are all mowable at a height of about four inches. The first four species are common around suburban Central Texas, and I simply transplanted some from other spots in my yard.  I also tried Tridens muticus (Slim tridens), but it seems too coarse for a lawn.  If a taller grass will fit in, try Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), which grows to about two feet in height and does very well in shade.

Images of some of my suggested species are shown below.

 

From the Image Gallery


Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Thin paspalum
Paspalum setaceum

Slim tridens
Tridens muticus

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Pollinator friendly lawn for Longmont CO
July 06, 2015 - I have a sunny, treeless, South-facing yard, with a slight South-facing slope in Boulder County, CO. It has one patch of buffalo grass, but is more then half some other type of grass. I would like t...
view the full question and answer

Mowable sedge for Zone 5, New York
December 07, 2007 - My wife (who is from Austin!) and I have a house in New York, warmish Zone 5. We are seeking a grass-like groundcover for lawn areas ranging from full to partial shade. We have a well-drained hill n...
view the full question and answer

Plants for near a salt water swimming pool
April 01, 2009 - I need some suggestions of plants that will grow next to a public salt water swimming pool, located in Bossier City, Louisiana
view the full question and answer

Non-monoculture turf grass for Florida from Sarasota FL
April 28, 2012 - I am looking for a non-monoculture turf grass suitable for the Florida climate. Will Habiturf work, or perhaps you have some other suggestions? Please advise.
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for hill in Saint Mary's County, Maryland
September 18, 2010 - Is there a native grass or grasses I can mow on a hill that faces south and is too large to water in Saint Marys County, Maryland?
view the full question and answer

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