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?

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

Thursday - October 12, 2006

From: Mansfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native alternatives to St. Augustine for under an Arizona Ash
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Mansfield, TX. We have a large Arizona Ash tree in our back yard. No grass will grow under it. We are thinking of laying sod (St. Augustine) there. Is this a good solution and if so, when is the best time of year to do this? Thanks!

ANSWER:

St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) might grow under your Arizona ash tree, but it will require frequent watering and mowing. Also, it is affected by several insect pests and diseases. Spring, after the danger of frost, is the best time to lay the sod so that it has warmer and lengthening growing days to establish itself before the heat of summer.

You might like to consider some less water-thirsty plants that will do well in the shade. An alternative ornamental grass that does well in the shade is Inland sea oats. The seed heads are attractive in flower arrangements. Another grass with ornamental seed heads that will grow in the shade is Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis). Sedges, such as Meadow Sedge (Carex perdentata) and Texas Sedge (Carex texensis), do well in dry shade and require little or no mowing. You can read about using sedges for lawns in the article, "Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape".

Other possibilites are non-grass ground covers such as Pigeon Berry (Rivina humilis), Texas Frogfruit, (Phyla nodiflora) Golden groundsel (Packera obovata), or White Avens (Geum canadense).

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Certified organic native grass seeds for Texas
August 10, 2014 - Thanks for your previous answer to my pasture grass seed question. We know about Native American Seed but they don't sell certified organic seeds. We're not sure whether we'll be able to find cer...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native Centipede grass
February 27, 2013 - My lawn is Centipede. I have created a new lawn area. Can and when should I seed/overseed my lawn? I have Rye in the new area.
view the full question and answer

Habiturf care from Plano TX
July 03, 2014 - Five weeks ago, we planted a Habiturf lawn in our back yard. The grass looks great and is already about 6 inches. I have two questions to solve before we do the front yard. We have lots of purslane m...
view the full question and answer

Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
view the full question and answer

Time to Plant Blue Grama Seeds in Spring Branch, Texas
June 11, 2011 - We would like to plant Blue Grama grass seeds but due to the hot weather with no rain here in central Texas, can we wait until September or even October to plant grass seeds? Thank you
view the full question and answer

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