Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - January 25, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Removing St. Augustine from flower beds
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We just had new landscaping put in at our house. We had planting beds prepped and mulched and had Zoysia sod installed outside the beds. The yard before had small areas of St. Augustine growing and now its sprouting out in the mulch bed. How do we get rid of the St. Augustine without killing the new trees and still be able to plant the garden we had planned.

ANSWER:

Pull it out.

Sorry to not have an easier suggestion, but at least it is not bermudagrass. The St. Augustine species is vigorous and spreads rapidly by creeping stolons. Its requirements, other than mild winters, include moist and somewhat fertile soil. It is not as drought tolerant or as cold tolerant as bermudagrass so its inland movement has been restricted to states and countries bordering on coastal zones. Left out in the sun with no water, it will brown and sicken, but you are very kindly providing it with moist, fertile soil and no competition. You can't spray it with a herbicide, because you are trying to raise more desirable plants in the same area. Even spraying with a grass-specific herbicide would likely also take down the zoysia grass. From personal experience, we can tell you that St. Augustine is not particularly bothered by mulch, it's nice and shady and cool and damp under there. Eventually, a stolon will have to pop up for some sunlight, and you need to nab it then, and get as much of it out as possible. And keep doing it.

Now for a word from our sponsor. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to use, propagation and protection of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. All three of the grasses mentioned in the paragraph above are non-native to North America.

From Texas Cooperative Extension, authored by Richard L. Duble: Zoysia, the grass you planted, is a sod-forming, slow-growing perennial with both stolons and rhizomes. It grows from early Spring to late Fall when moisture and nutrient requirements are met. It is native to China, Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia. 

Again from Texas Cooperative Extension, by Richard L. Duble: St. Augustine is native to the West Indies and Africa. It is a coarse-textured stoloniferous species that roots at the nodes. It requires quite a lot of water and can be caused serious damage by several insect pests.

University of California Integrated Pest Management: Pests in Gardens and Landscapes-Bermudagrass: This grass for turf and cattle feed was introduced into this country during Colonial times from Africa or India. With both stolons and rhizomes, it can advance aggressively and virtually climb ornamentals to reach sunshine. It is a particularly noxious weed throughout the South. 

Next time you need to plant grass, consider the natives. Visit our Native Plant Database, and use Narrow Your Search to find grasses native to Texas and suitable to grow in Austin. 

 

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Nimblewill grass for a shady area in Dallas
April 04, 2013 - i have a very shady backyard and reading some of your post I think Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) will survive. Two questions: Is it drought resistant? Where can I buy the seeds?
view the full question and answer

Toxicity and invasiveness of Scarlet Wisteria
May 04, 2007 - I recently purchased seeds for Scarlet Wisteria (Chinese rattlebox tree). I spoke to a neighbor about this and she warned me not to plant them as they were poisonous to hummingbirds. Can you clarify...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive henbit from Round Rock TX
April 27, 2013 - I've read in this book "Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants" that Henbit is an invasive plant in Texas. I've also read that it provides an early source of nectar to bees and butterflies when li...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under pine trees in Colorado Springs CO
April 23, 2011 - What can I plant under pine trees in Colorado that will grow every year? Would like ground cover; tried bishop weed.
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive carrot wood tree losing leaves in Alpine CA
April 22, 2014 - My carrot wood tree is losing all of its leaves. The tree is about 15foot high & 13 years old. Could it be gophers? The tree was trimmed 1 year ago.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.