En EspaŅol

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
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
1 rating

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


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.


 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.




More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Ground cover for burned acreage in Bastrop, Texas
October 31, 2011 - The fire took 2/3 of the trees on my half acre in Bastrop County. It was mostly wild. What do I plant for ground cover? Do I plant native grass seed in fall? I want to keep it native as possible. ...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
February 06, 2012 - Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for high traffic area in Pennsylvania
August 01, 2012 - I am wondering if there is a Pennsylvania native turf like grass/plant that can withstand a lot of foot traffic (public area with lots of children). This will be used in a formal setting so will need ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mexican feathergrass
October 24, 2015 - I live in Austin. I've recently seen negative comments re: Mexican feathergrass. Is it native to this area? Is it becoming a problem? I have had it in my yard for years and never considered it a ...
view the full question and answer

Reseed Buffalograss in Early Spring in San Antonio
January 14, 2011 - When is best time to put down Buffalo grass seed in 78260 area. How much dirt should I put over existing sodded buffalo grass, which is now sparse?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center