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?


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
1 rating

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


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!


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.


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

Native grasses as low-water option for ranch yard
March 19, 2007 - We have a weekend ranch in LLano Texas and are looking for a grass to plant in the front yard. (approx 3/4 acre) The house is very small and cute but not a real big fancy house. We do have a fence aro...
view the full question and answer

Non-native St. Augustine grass failing for 5 years in Houston
July 21, 2013 - My townhome in Houston has a mid-size backyard, which receives full sun for much of the day. I've re-sodded with St. Augustine for 5 consecutive summers, but it consistently dies over time (proper fe...
view the full question and answer

Annual ryegrass and Habiturf from Austin
October 31, 2013 - We've decided to put Habiturf in our freshly cleared back yard that was overgrown with sticky burs and crabgrass, but now that it is fall, would you recommend putting in a cover crop of annual ryegra...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Spicewood TX
March 20, 2013 - I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda G...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center