The Fate of Drought-Tolerant Landscaping in North Texas


Via the Dallas Daily News and Fox:  Today in Corinth, Texas the fate of a muhly-grass-filledMuhly yard will be decided in the city council, the first in the area to address "this type of landscaping" – tall, drought-tolerant grasses.  The unlucky homeowners jumped all the hurdles – the city and their homeowners association – but still got ticketed because "A few neighbors simply don’t like it and won’t put up with it anymore."  GardenRant to neighbors:  Get a life!

We love our Austin readers, though, and are happy to report that both Austin and San Antonio have progressive lawn policies, with Austin even awarding tax rebates for water-saving landscaping.

And as someone who avoids Fox News like tainted spinach, I was curious to see their take on this pro-environment issue and was pleased by the positive tone of their report.  The low blow I can’t resist is their reference to muley grass (sic!), not to mention omitting most of the story altogether.  But hey, if eco-friendly landscaping gets a fair hearing on Fox, change is definitely afoot – even in North Texas.

Thanks again to Kathy for this tip, which she sent me after I ranted about an article in her magazine.  She’s one editor/publisher who pays attention to her readers – and enjoys a bit of controversy.  Kathy’s blog is currently singing the praises of this article about DIRT and it deserves a mention here, too.  Kudos to E/The Environmental Magazine for explaining "Why we should all worship the ground we walk on."


  1. Wow, I’m amazed that such backward thinking about the use of native grasses and other plants still happens. The photo of the Gulf muhly grasses in bloom is gorgeous. The owners’ narrow-minded neighbors should appreciate the beauty of these plants rather than dialing the complaint line over such a trivial issue. OK, ranters, I know you believe gardening isn’t trivial, but in the grand scheme of things, it is. My point is, there are so many other issues to busy ourselves with complaining about that it still amazes me when people get their panties in a wad over how tall someone’s grass is.

  2. Even here in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, we have provisions to allow for xeriscaping and rain gardens. I live in a typical suburb, but in an unusually wooded neighborhood with few lawns. When our steet was replaced two years ago, the city respected the nature of the neighborhood and planted a native seed mixture in the dug-up area next to the curb. This without prompting from any residents. After reading the article, I feel pretty lucky to live here.

  3. For the life of me I cannot understand the people who go out of their way to complain about something so trivial as a lawn. Especially to complain enough times to where your neighbor incurs multiple fines. How cruel.

    When I walk outside of my house, I think the last thing on my mind is what my neighbor’s yard looks like, and I’m a gardener!

  4. I actually found the Fox report more enlightening. Especially this, “Strangely enough, the grass isn’t just in people’s yards. We found it growing in front of the Corinth City Hall!
    ‘Probably we’re in violation right here with this monkey grass,’ said City Manager Don Davis. This is a typical government agency, do as we say, not as we do. If the homeowners got approval from the homeowners association and the city for their landscape then that should be it.

    “None of the cities she contacted acknowledged, let alone encouraged, emerging practices in water-saving landscaping,” said Ms. Mohrenweiser a building official with the city.

    They do in my county, El Dorado. They have gone completely the other way and require 50% of the plants put in a commercial landscape be natives to El Dorado County. Not just California natives but El Dorado County Natives. This is hard as most of the natives to this county do not transplant into commercial landscapes well. The soil has been disturbed, the beneficial microbes in the soil destroyed, and the natives eventually die.

    One of the neighbors that are making a fuss said, “…she would not object to drought-tolerant ground cover that would stay short.” So this is not a native-drought resistant issue, but what types of natives or drought resistant plants are allowed.

    As we head into the future it will have to be discussed. What types of natives or drought resistant plants are allowed? Are we happy that El Dorado County requires a certain amount of natives be planted, only to have many die due to poor planting and cultural practices? Would it be better to allow the landowner to plant drought resistant plants that are from other parts of the world that at least will grow?

    We need to separate the native issue from the drought resistant issue. For a lot of people, especially in my local government there is no difference.

  5. Trey, you are exactly right. “Native” is NOT a synonym for “drought-tolerant,” though many people use it that way. Here in Austin, where rainfall can be scarce in summer and water shortages always loom, people look to xeric natives to survive periods of drought. But certainly there are plants native to central Texas that thrive in damp soil and bogs. As I learned years ago at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the key to using natives, as simple as it sounds, is to match the plant’s needs with the soil (and light) conditions.

    As for aesthetics, and some communities’ desire to have a continuous swath of mown grass, that’s a whole other barrel of monkeys.

  6. By the way I am looking for some ‘muley grass’……..which is how I ran across your silly comment.

    Also, check with the folks up North and ask them about the myth of ‘global warming’ (or ‘climate change’ which is now the mantra of the uninformed) and simple minded folks who live only to believe ‘big lies’. Goebbels would be proud of you.

    As far as FOX News is concerned, I gave up on the big three networks years ago and on Collectivist News Network (CNN) and MSNBC some time ago.

    You people need to start ‘thinking’ and stop reacting emotionally….

  7. Way to go Ronald Baker. Sound like a Kool-aid drinking liberal started this thread. Fox news is the only source of true news-instead of Obambi worship you get some REAL news. So think about how narrow minded you are Mrs. Harris when you avoid Fox News. I found out a year ago about how the so called Climate Scientist were placing the monitored temp guages near heat sources-ie-A/C condensers, pavement surfaces etc… on purpose, They are pushing this agenda for many reasons none of which are to save the planet. What good is allowing co2 emissions to continue but you just want to make sure you charge for them? Is that going to really decrease Co2 output? I think Not. Wake up America!!! I do like Muhley grass by the way but not because it is drought tolerant-I just think it is attractive!!

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