En Español

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

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

Saturday - September 26, 2009

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Controlling weeds in Buffalograss in Pflugerville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, After a visit to the wildflower center a few years ago, my husband and I decided to do buffalo grass from sod in our new house. We love the way it looks, but I've been neglecting it and the weeds have overrun parts of it. I've pulled them out or in areas raked them out, but now I have ugly bare spots. Is there anything I can do to: 1. get the buffalo grass to grow back in the bare spots 2. control weeds, I'm having to pull them non-stop, is there anything I can use that would kill weeds but not the buffalo grass?


If you have not already done so, please read our How-To Article Native Lawns: Buffalograss. It should answer several of your questions about filling in the grass and keeping weeds out. You are correct, as you will see in the article, in saying that the weeds seem to grow faster than the Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss). Not only do you need to keep the weeds out by hand-pulling, but you need to learn which is buffalograss and which is weed.  In particular, when reading the How-ToArticle, take note of the final section: "After You Plant."

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against herbicides; however, in this case many of the "weeds" will be, like buffalograss, monocots or grasses. Some of those grasses will also be native, and therefore very vigorous. There are wide-spectrum herbicides that kill everything, including plants you probably didn't want harmed. There are herbicides for dicots, or broad-leaved plants, that should not harm the grasses, but, again, with a little breeze you can easily damage a tree or shrub or herbaceous blooming plants, all of which are broad-leaved, too. 

Also, as you read the article, you may realize that perhaps you have been over-watering the buffalograss; once it is established, it can get along without irrigation. The weeds, on the other hand, will grow even more happily and lush with additional watering. You will have to water the new patches until they are established, whether you seed or re-sod those bare spaces.

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides



More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Flowering vine for trellis behind fountain in Anaheim Hills CA
June 05, 2010 - We are looking for a flowering vine to plant on a trellis surrounding a water fountain. The fountain splashes leaving the soil constantly wet. We have tried numerous vines, but they all die due to t...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for a NC Clay Slope
June 06, 2013 - Hi, We have a large slope on the road edge of our property that has been gradually eroding with spring rains (NC red clay). We would really like to plant something for erosion control but the bank is...
view the full question and answer

Speed of bluestem grass spreading in Georgia red clay from Dallas GA
May 13, 2012 - How fast does bluestem spread in Georgia red clay?
view the full question and answer

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
view the full question and answer

Planting grass seed in Greenville SC
April 24, 2009 - What type of grass seed is best to use in a sunny/ shady area where some grass is already growing? And how is the best way to prep the area for seed and fertilizer or what should I do before and after...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center