Caring for Grasses
In general, native grass lawns don't require much care and maintenance. That is one of the things that makes them great. If you plant the right species, you don't have to fall into the endless cycle of fertilizing, watering, and mowing. The best turf grass for this area is Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides). It is native to North Texas, therefore it is perfectly adapted and requires little to no care once it is established. Fertilizer is generally unnecessary with this species. Should you decide you want to give this grass a boost, a thin layer (a half inch) of compost spread lightly across the yard in the Spring should do the trick.
Once established (six to eight weeks), Buffalograss lawns require little to no supplemental watering. This grass is adapted to the natural rainfall patterns found here in North Texas. Buffalograss roots penetrate several feet into the soil, enabling it to thrive in our harsh conditions. It will remain green on as little as 1.5 inches of rain a month. Should you decide to add supplemental water, water deeply and infrequently. Two or three soakings a summer should be plenty for this turf.
The frequency with which you mow this grass is dependent upon the variety you choose and your desired aesthetic effect. First, there are several varieties of Buffalograss on the market. The "609" variety is the most popular for lawns. It may need to be mowed a couple of times a summer to keep it looking "trimmed". The "Stampede" variety never needs to be mowed. It grows to 4 inches and stops. Currently, "Stampede" is not as widely available as "609", but hopefully it will become more so in the near future. The variety "Turfallo" was bred for the conditions of the West Texas area and stays greener on less water. It can be mowed a couple of times during the summer to keep it looking trimmed as well.
You will find others in the metroplex recommending turf grasses such as Bermudagrass and/or St. Augustine. We do not recommend Bermudagrass because it is so aggressive. Bermudagrass will vigorously invade planting beds. Buffalograss is not nearly as invasive, so you will not be constantly fighting it to keep it out of your planting beds. Some will argue that you may as well plant Bermudagrass since Buffalograss will be overrun by Bermudagrass from neighboring lawns. This should not happen if you are properly watering your Buffalograss lawn. If watered as we have recommended, an established Buffalograss lawn can stand its ground against Bermudagrass.
We do not recommend St. Augustine because it requires too much water and fertilizer to survive our climate. SmartScape is designed to offer you landscape choices that do not require such pampering.
The following video is from the Sustainable Landscape Series from the City of Allen and covers watering, fertilizing, mowing, and pest control for lawns.
Native ornamental grasses (or "bunch" grasses) require even less maintenance than turf grass. Use the same procedure as described for Buffalograss should you decided to water or fertilize these species.
If you have ornamental grasses as accent specimens in your landscape, simply cut them back to a 6 to 8 inch mound in February. The ends of the stalks you remove will contain seeds. Scatter these seed heads wherever you'd like to encourage more of that species. You can use the remaining portions of the stalks as mulch, or compost them.
Leave it on the lawn! Yard clippings can pollute nearby streams and creeks.