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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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Wednesday - August 13, 2008

From: Portland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Getting rid of King Ranch bluestem
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have recently moved to South Texas Coastal town of Portland, Texas. My St. Augestine turf grass has been invaded by - what the neighbors tell me - King Ranch Blue Stem grass. I am having a terrible time trying to pull - dig or whatever to rid myself of this horrible "running" - "take-over" grass. Can you help? How can I rid myself of it? Thanks

ANSWER:

You are not the first person to ask us about this problem. The unpleasant truth is that it isn't easy to get rid of. You can't apply herbicide since the same herbicide will kill your St. Augustine. For large fields that have been invaded by KR, tilling and prescribed burning are the most effective methods; but this isn't something you are likely to want to do in your lawn. What you are doing—pulling and digging it up—is the most effective way for ridding a lawn of it. Also, keep the lawn mowed to keep seed heads from forming and ripening. If it has pretty well taken over your entire lawn, you might try using solarization to kill everything (including the St. Augustine) and start over with the St. Augustine or, better yet, a native lawn. If only a portion of your lawn has the infestation, you could solarize that part and let the St. Augustine move back in once the KR is dead. You will have to be both vigilant and diligent to keep the KR from establishing itself again.

Please see the answer to a previous question for an extended discussion about elimination of King Ranch (KR) bluestem.

 

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