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Mr. Smarty Plants - How can I control Rescue Grass in my newly seeded prairie restoration?

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Wednesday - March 25, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: How can I control Rescue Grass in my newly seeded prairie restoration?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello, This past fall I solarized the existing turfgrass in my front yard and seeded with the native tallgrass prairie grasses and wildflowers. My goal is to restore a small patch of tall grass prairie to east Austin. During the past month I have noticed a recolonization by rescue grass, a non-native and undesirable cool-season grass. The rescue grass is going to seed and I am not sure how to control the grass. Should I hand pull? Should I just pull the seed heads? Should I do nothing? As a last resort, should I apply herbicide? Any assistance would help. Thank you. Oh, I have not observed any of the native seeded grasses germinate or at least develop any above-ground biomass.

ANSWER:

 Mr. Smarty Plants applauds your efforts toward restoring native tallgrass prairie in your space, and would to like to refer you to two of our "How To" articles; Meadow Gardening and Recreating a Prairie.  You may be familiar with both of these, and have followed the suggestions carefully, however this current drought can certainly change the outcomes.

Rescue grass (Bromus catharticus) was introduced into the southern United States from Argentina in the early 1800's as a forage plant and a soil binder. It has has proved to be an excellent forage grass and has become naturalized throughout the US and Texas. As you are discovering, it grows in the cooler months and produces flowers and seeds in the early spring. The subspecies that occurs here is an annual or biennial.  I would recommend removing seedheads before they mature (mowing is the easiest method) and the plants will die out.  Of course it's likely to appear again next year and the following year, especially if there is a nearby seed source.  

As the soil heals and is reclaimed by native grasses and forbs, rescuegrass and other non-natives will decline. Since you have sown grass and wildflower seed, using a herbicide is not recommended.

 

 

 

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