Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Monday - February 11, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Trimming of native muhly grasses
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do pine muhly, gulf muhly, and bull muhly need an "annual haircut"? I started wondering after reading that Lindheimer's muhly does not have to be cut back each year. I cut back all my non-muhly natives (brushy bluestem, switchgrass, etc.).

ANSWER:

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) or Gulf muhly, Muhlenbergia dubia (pine muhly) and Muhlenbergia emersleyi (bullgrass) or Bull muhly all can be attractive year-round with their graceful blades waving in the wind. The subject of trimming has more to do with personal preference than necessity. Any tall grass benefits from having a nice cleanup, raking out the dead stalks (with a lawn broom) and cleaning up around the grasses. They can then be mowed, trimmed about 1/3 of their height, or whacked off, but not necessarily every year. Although they come back strongly in the Spring from a heavy pruning, they can look really pretty awful in the meantime. A mild trimup one year and a little more thorough one the next year is good. And, if you have a large number of grasses, you might alternate, maybe giving a heavier trim to one, and only a slight trim to the next, leaving some always taller and more graceful in the group and then reverse the treatment the next year. But the cleanup needs to be done every year, late in the Winter, for appearance, to prevent providing havens for pests and disease, and as a fire deterrent.


Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia dubia

Muhlenbergia emersleyi
 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Ground cover for steep slope in Washington DC
May 07, 2010 - We have a steep slope in our garden in Washington DC which has sun from noon to sun set. Could you please recommend some low maintenance plants which would be a good ground cover and limit erosion?
view the full question and answer

Grassburs in native lawn in Utopia TX
June 22, 2010 - I recently planted native Texas grass (Buffalograss, blue grama & curly mesquite) at my new house in the hill country. I had to bring in all the top soil. The grass is doing great, but in one area o...
view the full question and answer

Best grass for the shade in Austin, TX.
July 01, 2015 - What is the best grass seed for shade in Austin?
view the full question and answer

Controlling erosion with grasses in Dallas, TX
October 19, 2013 - After consulting with several geological engineers and the city of Dallas engineers - we know that our severe erosion problem can only be fixed by building a 35' foot high gabion wall about 150' in ...
view the full question and answer

Buffalo grass and other native grass for lawn in Central Texas
March 17, 2008 - Hi, I live in Cedar Park, TX - recently moved to into a newly built house. I wanted to put some native grass (like buffalo) in the back yard. - My back yard has slope (away from house) and front...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.