Horseherb: The Native Turf Alternative

Although regarded by many as a weed, hardy horseherb often grows in patches where grass can’t. And in many yards it means the difference between having barren spots or not.

Turf grasses are wonderful and have their uses — not everyone can turn their yard into a huge flowerbed. The “conventional wisdom” is that grass is needed for pets to potty and children to play on. While this is debatable, it is true that sometimes grass can’t grow where it’s needed, especially in heavily shaded areas.

Some homeowners will respond to patchy areas in their yard by increasing irrigation or re-sodding the area repeatedly. Both are expensive solutions that typically don’t resolve the issue. That’s where horseherb comes in handy.

Horseherb (aka straggler daisy) is a native plant that is regarded by many as being a weed. However, it’s very dainty and often grows in patches where grass can’t, like in areas with heavy weeds. Following a decent rain in warm weather, it sports tiny yellow blooms. In many yards it makes the difference between having barren patches or not! You can purchase 4-inch containers of it called “plugs” at small nurseries and it will grow by stolons (runners) all on its own.

Like traditional grass, you can mow it and walk on it without causing any issues. Even if you let horseherb grow out, it will flop over and grow horizontally along the ground. In the winter it may die back some, but will rebound quickly after the first spring rain.

Alternatively, if you’re over traditional turf grasses altogether, consider combining horseherb with false dayflower, bluebonnets, wild petunia and various sedges for an evergreen, flowering, shade- and drought-tolerant lawn!

You may want to water by hand once in a while, but you can say goodbye to continuous re-sodding and trying to keep fields of St. Augustine green in the dead heat of summer.

Picture of Sarah Gorton
Sarah Gorton
Sarah Gorton is a Planner with the SAWS Conservation department. She is passionate about bats and native plants, with a particular fondness for horseherb! Sarah has completed certifications through Texas Master Naturalist and Native Plant Society. When she isn't working on her research on the use of native grasses for uptaking pollutants at UTSA, she can be found making stained glass or hanging out with her two Chihuahuas.
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