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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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Saturday - June 07, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pests, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Cause of yellowing buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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't want to use chemicals but also don't want to lose the buffalo grass. Thanks!

ANSWER:

The City of Austin has an excellent "Earth-wise Guide to Lawn Problems" that presents several common lawn problems with descriptions, photographs, tests for causes, and solutions. You can test your buffalo grass lawn to determine if it is being affected by grubs. The recommended treatment (non-chemical) is the application of beneficial nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae) that will attack and kill the grubs.

There is another possibility for yellowing buffalograss, according to an article (Buffalograss Lawns, by A. J. Koski from Colorado State University):

"Buffalograss is sometimes prone to iron chlorosis (yellowing) on high pH soils; supplemental applications of iron chelate (Fe EDDHA, sequestrene iron) will help to cure or prevent this problem."

The "Earth-wise Guide to Lawn Problems" lists this as a problem affecting St. Augustine and suggests preventive treatment (e.g., top dressing with 1/4-1/3" compost, not using fertilizers high in phosphorus, and aerating the lawn once a year). The Guide also suggests iron supplements for temporary relief.

 

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