En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - May 06, 2008

From: Hewitt, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Elimination of nutgrass
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Nutgrass has taken over my vegetable and perennial garden to the point that I can not see my plants or granite sand paths. The two major areas are about 600 square feet in total. What can I do to control this. It has affected my love of gardening: I'm ready to either move or pour concrete. My husband tells me to find a third alternative. Thank you for any advice. Ann

ANSWER:

Sadly, nutgrass ranks right up there with poison ivy as gardener's Public Enemy No. 1. First, read this previous answer from Mr. Smarty Plants that pretty well lays out the truth of the matter. As you will note in that answer, herbicides are not really effective because fresh plants will come up from the tubers, deep below. Just yanking at the nutgrass will cause it to break up at soil level, and it will have grown one to two inches by the next day. On the granite path, the problem would be even worse, because the soil will be dry and the nutgrass will easily break and come right back.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against pesticides, but the granite paths may be a case where you don't have much choice. However, you will have to use a great deal of caution to keep the spray off your vegetables and perennials. Spray on a still day, keep the sprayer low to the ground, and put some kind of a barrier, like foam board or cardboard between your spraying and the plants you are trying to save. As we said, the nutgrass will come back up, but at least you have a level start. Pull it up, and do your best to get as many tubers as you can.

Now, on the flower and vegetable gardens themselves, we're really sorry, but it's going to have to be pulled out, slowly and carefully, getting as many tubers out as possible. And it's going to have to keep on being done from now on. Nutgrass is very resistant to herbicides, but your other plants are not.

We hope you don't have to go to concrete. And we don't want you to give up gardening. Don't let the nutgrass win!

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Non-native Star Jasmine poisonous to dogs from Dallas
May 20, 2013 - Is star jasmine poisonous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Plant mistakes from Cedar Park, TX
April 09, 2014 - At our "Wilts End" in Cedar Park, TX. and are looking for a tall shrub/tree that will hide a 6-ft tall concrete wall and muffle the noise from a busy street. The wall forms a very wide-angled V shap...
view the full question and answer

Bastard cabbage in Austin TX
March 17, 2012 - Not sure if this is the forum to address this; but is there any effort out there to do something about the bastard cabbage taking over Austin? Especially on MoPac where you can hardly see the bluebon...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen hedge for constant rain
June 24, 2008 - We live in Washington State up north by Canadian border. We need a hedge that will survive the constant rain. We have tried cedar. They seem to turn brown and die,one at a time so we keep replacing th...
view the full question and answer

How do I get rid of KR Bluestem in my yard in Harper, TX?
August 23, 2010 - I have something in my yard that has washed down from the pasture beside us. I think maybe it is KR Bluestem, how do I get rid of it? I cannot keep up with the digging of it, Help!
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center