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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - June 20, 2004

From: Elberon, NJ
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Solarization and hand-pulling to remove invasive weeds
Answered by: Stephen Brueggerhoff

QUESTION:

We are planting a field of native grasses, and prepared the landscape by solarization last July. However it now seems that the weeds returned with great vigor. Is there any other method to get rid of the weeds without using chemicals?

ANSWER:

The answer to your inquiry lies in patience. You have practiced responsible preventative maintenance by providing solarization. Some 'weed' species may persist the first or second year of site preparation, and you may have to rely on herbicidal 'spot treatment' to exclude these aggresive species. Mowing at appropriate heights is one method of mechanical maintenance. Mowing before the weeds set flower or seed reduces the chances for seed dispersal. Vigilance with hand pulling unwanted species is also key, as well as continuing to increase ecologically appropriate species populations. With steady work, you should be able to see more positive results by the third or fourth year post-installation. Click here to review an article on Wildflower Meadow Gardening, which provides detailed information reviewing methods for developing a healthy native plant landscape.
 

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