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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - July 29, 2013

From: Odess,, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Watering, Grasses or Grass-like, Trees
Title: Native turf and trees for Odessa TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What native turf and trees can I grow in my Odessa, Tx back yard?

ANSWER:

We will begin with the turfgrass. You probably already know that most of the non-native turfgrasses need far more water than is justifiable to spend on lawns in West Texas. This member of the Smarty Plants Team grew up in West Texas in the 1950's, so we know well the kind of water problems you have. We would like for you to begin with reading all the information and watching the video that you will find on this site: Habiturf, the Ecological Lawn. You will learn from that site that it is made up of three grasses native to Texas and to the Ector County area. Here are links to our webpages on those three grasses; please follow each link to read up on their growing conditions, as well as soil, sunlight and water needs. Next to those links are links to the USDA Plant Profile Maps showing the counties in Texas where each grass grows naturally.

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) - Map grows naturally in in next-door Midland County

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) - Map grows naturally in Andrews County

Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass) - Map grows naturally nearby

The fact that a plant does not show up on a county map does not mean it won't grow there, it just means it has not been reported to the USDA as growing there. Please note that all three of these grasses are shown to need "Sun" to grow well. We consider "Sun" to be 6 hours or more of sun a day. We will go on to list some trees for you from our Recommended List of Species for the Texas High Plains. Using the specifications list on the right-hand side of that page, we will select "tree" for Habit. You can run the same search, adding such specifications as leaf retention (evergreen?), desired ultimate height range, etc. We are assuming your soil and soil moisture will be the same as plants on the list because they have been selected for that particular area.

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon)

Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite)

Rhus lanceolata (Prairie flameleaf sumac)

Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii (Western soapberry)

Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm)

Now, we have finally answered your basic questions (why do the one-line questions always need the longest answers?) but we feel there is one more thing you need to consider. Remember we specified the turf grass Habiturf needed lots of sun. If you plant trees, as they grow they will cast more and more shade and their roots will need more and more room and water as they grow. Also, you need to measure the amount of shade cast by existing structures (like your house, fences, etc.). Since, if you follow the instructions for Habiturf you won't be planting the grass until Spring, and since we recommend planting woody plants (trees and shrubs) from November to January in Texas, you have a while to make your preparations and decisions.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Honey mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa

Prairie flameleaf sumac
Rhus lanceolata

Western soapberry
Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Why are there no low-mow lawn grasses composed of only native fescues?
September 09, 2014 - Dear SP, Most blends of ecograss I see are a combination of non-native and native fescues (and sometimes buffalo grass, blue grama, etc.). Why are there (apparently) none that are composed entirely of...
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Pine bark on non-native St. Augustine grass in Kingwood TX
May 12, 2010 - I had two large Pine trees cut down. In the process of cutting the trees down there is a lot of pine bark from the tree on my St Augustine grass. Will this affect the growth of my grass?
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Bioswale in Orange CA
September 08, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for plants for a bio-swale in Southern California. Do you have any suggestions for plants that do well in water but can also can handle long dry summers?
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Is installing irrigation with Habiturf a good idea in Round Rock Texas?
December 05, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I am in the process of planning a new lawn in my front yard. We have decided to plant the Habiturf seed mix (thank you, by the way). Originally, we planned on installing a spri...
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Need help with dying clumps of Cedar Sedge
June 24, 2015 - Carex planostachys. This grass was planted 2 years ago in light shade. It grew well until this year. Now some clumps are dying. Others in same area look fine. No insects can be detected. Why are...
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