Rent Shop 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?


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

Monday - July 02, 2012

From: Rifle, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacement for Kentucky grass in Colorado
Answered by: Nan Hampton


What kind of grass to replace "Kentucky grass"? It uses too much water. Need drought tolerant grass for the Rifle, Colorado area ("zip code is 81650"). Water bill is way too high, pushing over $100.00 a month.


Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) with its high water requirements is definitely not the grass you want to have in Colorado's dry climate.  Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is the grass for you.   Please read our article Native Lawns: Buffalograss.  Buffalograss, once established, requires little water and little mowing.  Until it is established you will need to do some watering and you will need to keep ahead of the weeds by pulling them and mowing.  Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) is another grass with similar properties that you can plant along with buffalograss.  Native American Seeds in Junction, Texas sells a seed mix called Native Sun Turfgrass that contains 80% buffalograss seeds and 20% blue grama.  Here is more information on blue grama as a turf grass from Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service.  Since Rifle, Colorado is at about 5,000 feet, however, the Texas mix may not be the best choice.   The Colorado State University Extension's article on Buffalograss Lawns suggests several varieties that are better adapted to the lower temperatures associated with higher elevations, such as Legacy.


From the Image Gallery

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Leaves dropping from a potted Mesquite
August 11, 2014 - I have a Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean Mesquite) that I purchased at a nursery in Alpine, TX just a few miles away from me. It was a in nursery style black plastic container. The mesquite is perhaps a...
view the full question and answer

Montezuma cypress trees for San Antonio
June 23, 2012 - Are Montezuma cypress trees good drought tolerant trees for your yard? I live 30 miles south of San Antonio; would this tree be good for this area?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Maryland Slope in Deer Country
July 03, 2016 - I have a 20-30% grade hill in Maryland. I am looking for a groundcover plant (for example ivy) that I can plant on the hill. I have the following issues: clay soil, deer, full sun, limited water sourc...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Narrow, Dry, Shaded Site in Georgia
April 03, 2014 - I am writing from Valdosta, GA. Could you please suggest three perennial shrubs and/or plants that flower at different times of the spring and summer? Also ones that can be planted in a 2 ft. wide s...
view the full question and answer

Water-saving strategies of drought-tolerant plants
April 04, 2014 - Although "drought tolerant" plants are fairly well documented, it's clear that many different strategies are responsible, such as a huge root system (like Mesquite). I'm interested in learning the...
view the full question and answer

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