En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflower meadow for birds

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - September 19, 2008

From: Van Alstyne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Wildflower meadow for birds
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I put in a wildflower feed plot for the song birds 3 years ago. We prepared the bed by first using Round Up to kill all the grass then lightly tilled to scratch the surface and planted the wildflower seed. The first year it was a gorgeous bed but the grass continues to come back. I want to throw more seed down this fall. The garden is next to our native grass prairie. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Why don't you begin by reading our How-To article on Meadow Gardening. You will note in that article that experts consider that a wildflower garden should have 50 to 80% in grasses. Obviously, you don't want non-native or invasive grasses or weeds in that garden, but neither can you expect to have nothing but wildflowers. The grasses will protect and support the wildflowers, and fill the space when the mostly annual wildflowers are dormant. Permitting the wildflowers to self-seed, as well as re-seeding, should continue the show into future years. In the long run, the grasses will probably dominate. Using an herbicide will only kill the plants that are above ground at the time of application, but many grasses have extensive underground root systems, and some have rhizomes that are little affected by herbicides. We do not recommend continued use of herbicides, as it will inevitably destroy some desirable plants and, over time, affect the quality of the soil. Since most annual wildflowers reseed themselves in the Fall, you can possibly mow, at a high setting, some of the grasses in the area, and certainly pull out any aggressive weeds. Mowing the grass before it sets seed is the most effective way to prevent it continuing to spread. However, there will always be seeds in the wind or carried in by birds, no matter how carefully you protect your area. Pulling out weeds, particularly before they flower and set seed, is hard but about the most effective way to control them.

We would also like to suggest that you read this article on Wildlife Gardening. You may find that you can offer a haven for other wildlife than just birds, enriching your experience with your garden.  The more diversity of plant life you have, the richer the experience for you, your birds, butterflies, and other small creatures. 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Grasses and flowering plants for Dallas
July 02, 2008 - I have an area of morning sun next to my house about ten feet deep. I would like to mix a fairly tall grass with two other plants, flowering. What are some of your suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Native grasses to replace mondo grass in California
March 30, 2009 - Hello - I live in the Southern California coastal zone, and am looking for a drought resistant, turf alternative. My husband wants to use "Mondo Grass", but I know that is not native to the regi...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf for shady areas in San Antonio TX
November 08, 2013 - Will the Habiturf grass mentioned here do well in shady areas too?
view the full question and answer

Native flower bed with part sun
December 05, 2008 - I have recently put in three small flower beds and replaced the hard clay with decent dirt. The site is shaded in the AM but mostly sun in the PM. I would like to plant natives - what can you recommen...
view the full question and answer

Weeds in Habiturf from Austin
May 14, 2012 - We had our old lawn removed, tilled, laid compost, and Habiturf seed spread. I'm not sure if the man we contracted to do the work didn't adequately remove the old weed debris when he prepared the la...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center