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So I can buy the little pots of "cat grass" or even the grow kits at my local pet store, but I thought it would be more fun to have a little patch of it growing in the yard that (hypothetically) would be perennial so it would come back after (or maybe even stick around during) the winter.

Fortunately the manager of the pet store knew his stuff and let me know that their "cat grass" is actually winter rye.

So while I know this isn't stackexchange for pets, I was hoping someone would be able to recommend a grass that met the following criteria:

  1. It will grow and survive in the Austin, Texas heat (we had 3 months of triple-digit days last Summer).

  2. If possible, a grass that I could sow now. (I don't want to get it in beds but start from scratch, but if that's not an option, I'll do what I have to).

  3. The grass guy at Home Depot admitted he didn't know a lot of indigenous grasses to Texas/Austin (having just arrived from Ohio) but did mention centipede grass, but with the warning that it was very fragile in the germination stage. Ideally, I'd like something simple that I don't have to barricade for a month while it matures.

  4. Most importantly, would be a good "cat grass". Based on the look and feel of the winter rye that they sell at the pet store, combined with what I've seen our cats gnaw on in the yard, I believe the basic criteria are:

    • Very thin, like stems (so not flat or blade-type)

    • Very soft, (this is what winter rye is like, I'm not sure our cats care as much),

    • Very tall. By very tall, I don't mean wheat field tall, I think it just has to be tall enough both to stand out and get the cat's attention and keep them from having to lick and gnaw at dirt/bugs while trying to get their fix.

  5. Bonus points if you know of a grass that would fit the above criteria and that cats are known to really enjoy. Obviously I can't put "tasty to cats" as a criteria, but if anyone on here has already experimented/succeeded with growing a good indigenous Texas-style cat grass, obviously that would avoid finding out that some grass that is otherwise prefect just smells/tastes like crap to most cats.

Any help is appreciated, even if it's only suggestions that meet 2 or 3 of the criteria.

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Just as an addendum (not quite edit worthy), I called a local landscaping place and had the unbelievable good luck of getting a grass expert who also has 6 cats. She recommended wheat grass, not as the perfect solution but one that would meet 90% of my criteria. I'm leaving the question open as I'd love some other feedback, but thought maybe someone might have opposing advice on the wheat grass (some horror story, etc). But I'm going to try it out this weekend unless I get a reason not to or get some awesome alternative grass to try. –  Anthony May 29 '12 at 22:45
    
If winter rye will survive your summers, I'd say go for it: it's cheap, tough, tall, and it comes up fast. Get a cheap 5# bag, sow your few square feet for the cats, and store the leftovers in the freezer. You could start some in early winter and again in the fall after the heat breaks. That bag could last you years. –  bstpierre May 30 '12 at 13:01
    
@bstpierre - Yeah, I was hoping to start right away. Apparently cats also really love oat grass and barley (I think cats are secretly just wanting to homebrew), and both of those apparently will sprout fast as long as I don't trample it and the area gets enough shade. The spot is just shady enough that I'm willing to cross my fingers. The winter rye I was told wouldn't stand a chance come June, but I might give it a go in late October just for kicks. –  Anthony Jun 1 '12 at 11:28
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1 Answer 1

Side-oats Grama and Blue Grama are both native to Texas and known to occur in Travis County. They tolerate full sun and dry soil, should grow readily from seed when sown on warm soil in the spring, and reach 1-2 feet in height.

I had good experience with side-oats last year even after sowing in late June (!) at the beginning of a blazing-hot Kansas summer. I thought it was pretty attractive too and definitely soft.

Centipedegrass is not native to Texas or even North America, btw. If you're in Austin you might call or visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. They'll know what to recommend.

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