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
1 rating

Saturday - June 29, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Privacy Screening, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Tall native grasses for privacy in Central Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hi- I am looking for a grass that will grow tall and be thick for privacy. I live here in Austin east of 35. Obviously something draught tolerant would be great! Thank you!

ANSWER:

I can suggest several native grass species that grow 6-8 feet tall and are relatively drought resistant once established.

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly) is my top choice if you have alkaline soil (limestone or caliche).  It matures into large clumps that remain attractive year-round.

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) would also be good and adapts to a variety of soil types.  It's clumps may be a bit thinner that those of Lindheimer's muhly.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), when planted in mass, produces a specacular show of tall yellow flowers.  But the grass is rather short until the blooming season in late summer and fall.

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) grows to about 6 feet in a wide variety of soil types.  To my taste, the clumps have a rather untidy appearance compared with the other three species.

Click on each of these grass names to view information about them on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database.  Shown below are images of the grasses I mentioned.  Seeds for the grasses can be obtained at Native American Seeds, and some of them may be available as established plants at local nurseries.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Need Native Cover Crop in Seguin, TX
October 11, 2010 - Is there a native winter cover crop that would control erosion until spring vegetation takes over?
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine with native grasses in San Antonio
November 04, 2009 - I am hoping to replace St. Augustine on a sloped yard with native grass. I was wondering where I might get information on the prairie grass seed mats used by the TXDOT highway dept to stop erosion. ...
view the full question and answer

Additional screening under yaupons in Georgetown TX
November 09, 2011 - We live on a corner and have a berm along the south side of our yard which blocks our backyard from the street. It was planted with uprights yaupons. With the drought, deer have eaten the bottom por...
view the full question and answer

Need something to compete with Virginia wild rye in Bristol, TN.
July 29, 2011 - I have been working for 4 years to convert a large area of sunny lawn (150' x 40') to a native woodland planting, using native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. Although I used seeds of a variety ...
view the full question and answer

Starting over on a lawn in Heath TX
April 02, 2013 - Unless one counts dichondra as grass I have more weeds than grass in my yard.I have hand pulled the weeds and used an organic program without success. The soil is a hard clay typical of North Texas. I...
view the full question and answer

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