En Español

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
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

Invasive iceplant in Hawaii
October 29, 2008 - Last time I checked Hawaii was in North America. Invasive or not, iceplant continues to be a much used ground cover etc for golf courses, sides of the freeway and many many City and County projects pr...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Purple Hyacinth from Sylvania OH
May 21, 2012 - I am wondering if I plant a Purple Hyacinth Bean vine seed under a tree and allow it to grow up the tree trunk, will it kill the tree?
view the full question and answer

Pruning of non-native Senna bicapsularis from Ocean Springs MS
April 04, 2013 - I have 4 Senna plants (cassia bicapsularis) that I planted late last spring. They about 3-4 feet tall but are very gangly with leaves at or near the tips only. How should I prune them to encourage g...
view the full question and answer

Reference for native critical populations from York, PA
May 25, 2010 - I have recently read a naysayer of native gardening. He states that native garden plants usually do not have the critical population size to be self-perpetuating. He says that one could better help t...
view the full question and answer

Skunk cabbage for Houston TX
September 19, 2009 - Can you find skunk cabbage in the Houston, Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center