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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - August 15, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Care of buffalo grass after wet season
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm asking for your advice on what to do with my buffalo grass lawn. With all this rain, I've managed to pull the weeds as they pop up in my front yard, and it looks good, except for a couple of places where there's too much shade and it's sparse. However... my back yard is an entirely different matter. It has 609 buffalo, which, at first, looked better than the front. It's prairie buffalo. The back has almost been taken over by lyre-leaf sage and dollar weed. I've almost given up on it. I've thought about overseeding it and it's probably a good time, given all the rain we're having. I know that fall and spring are the traditional times for planting seed, but I like to apply corn gluten at those times. I'm not concerned with the seed washing away in that area. What do you think of overseeding it with blue grama, or do you have something better in mind?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks some of the problems with the invaders into your buffalo grass will begin to abate now that the rains have stopped. The buffalo grass is going to do well with less rain, but dollarweed and lyreleaf sage are not going to be as happy. The dollarweed, or pennywort, (most likely Hydrocotyle umbellata (manyflower marshpennywort)) especially likes wet conditons. Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) also likes it a bit wetter than our normal spring and summer weather. Mr. SP hates to tell you this, but the best way to get rid of these invaders is remove them by hand. After doing this, your best bet is to wait a month or two with normal rainfall before deciding to completely redo your lawn. With less rainfall, the dollar weed and lyreleaf sage, should be much easier to control. Let's face it, this has been a very unusual year for rainfall.

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is still the best grass for sunny areas. It uses little water and requires only infrequent mowing. However, if you do decide to change your lawn, Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), is a good choice for a short grass. Some other possibilites are Bouteloua rigidiseta (Texas grama) and Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama). Sedges, such as Carex texensis (Texas sedge) and Carex planostachys (cedar sedge), are another possibility. Although planting seeds in the spring is the most desirable time to plant, they can be planted in late summer. Just planting seeds over the existing lawn is probably not going to work very well, however, since the seeds need to make contact with the soil. You can learn more from the excellent article, "Planting Tips for Native Grasses" from Native American Seed and our from our How to Article, "Native Lawns".


Bouteloua dactyloides

Carex texensis

 

 

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