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

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
view the full question and answer

Top soil dressing for bermudagrass
February 25, 2009 - Need to apply top soil dressing to bermudagrass. Can you suggest any type? This area is heavy clay soil and need to even out the lawn as well as feed the grass.
view the full question and answer

Is nimblewil (Muhlenbergia schreberi) a turf grass or a weed
July 26, 2008 - Mr. SP, I have seen nimblewill (Muhlenbergia schreberi) both promoted as a turf grass and disparaged as an invasive pest. Do you have an opinion on this grass and whether/where/how it should be us...
view the full question and answer

Properties of Nolina species
November 16, 2010 - I bought two plants that were labeled "Nolina" but one has round leaves and the other has flat leaves with serrations. Are they two different species? Also, can they be divided or is there only on...
view the full question and answer

Cause of yellowing buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
June 07, 2008 - We are getting large yellow areas in our buffalo grass lawn and think this is probably due to grub worms. Are grub worms the likely culprit and if so, what is the best way to get rid of them? We don...
view the full question and answer

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