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

Tuesday - February 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Xeriscapes, Groundcovers
Title: Grass installation with plugs from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

As much as I would love to use the seed mixture you suggest for Austin, I am not physically able to do the needed prep and was unable last year to get a professional. No one would even call me back when they learned what I wanted. Is there any grass I can install myself with plugs that is good for Austin? All I have now are weeds. My yards was totally ignored for many years before I bought the house. The Zoysia ads are enticing..

ANSWER:

We can definitely sympathize with you on grass installation; it can be very hard work, and a lot of maintenance. We are going to suggest that you forget the lawn and convert your space to a xeriscape. As we mentioned, lawns can be labor and maintenance intensive, costing a lot of money for water and fertilizer just to keep them alive.

First, let's deal with those weeds, which are no doubt going to contest mightily for the space with your grass or whatever you plant. From About.com Landscaping, here is an article on Solarization: An Easy Method for Killing Weeds. Although this sounds like a lot or work, we assume you are not dealing with dead trees or large shrubs, just a weedy space. This is a fairly complex solution, needs to be done in the summer when it's hot enough to fry the weeds and the roots, and isn't attractive while it's underway. But you will then be able to start with a clean slate, more or less.

From Bob Beyer, Travis County Master Gardener, here is an article on Dry Climate Landscaping.

We realize that all of our suggestions sound like a lot of work and expense, but they are all things you can do gradually, replacing the (hopefully dead) weeds with decomposed granite, and small beds of succulents or other plants that do well in our climate. The point is that grass of any kind is going to be difficult to plant, difficult to pay for the water to maintain it and difficult to keep alive in Austin.

 

More Xeriscapes Questions

Bringing upright a leaning cholla cactus
August 29, 2013 - I have a 3 ft. tall Cylindropuntia bigelovii that fell over after recent rains. I righted it and supported it with garden stakes for about a month. I was afraid to pull too hard on the low...
view the full question and answer

Plants under Oak Trees in Austin TX
December 10, 2012 - Half of my small yard is in the shade of one big live oak and one kumquat. Nothing I plant grows in this shade. The other half of my yard gets sunlight. It is planted with Jasmine grass which grows w...
view the full question and answer

Container Plants for Lubbock, Texas
June 22, 2015 - Hello! I am looking for plants suitable for container gardening for a west facing porch in Lubbock. Plants need to be super tough to endure the baking sun, constant wind, dry air, extreme temperatures...
view the full question and answer

Will Sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri thrive in caliche soil?
December 02, 2014 - I live on a high hill in the Hamilton Pool area outside of Austin. I am looking to plant a Dasylirion wheeleri that I grew from seed collected in New Mexico aria East Of Soccoro. I am wondering if the...
view the full question and answer

Xeriscaping in clay on a slope in Fort Worth
April 06, 2006 - Xeriscaping in clay (Fort Worth) on a slope -- Please offer suggestions and publications. Thanks
view the full question and answer

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