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

Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Middletown, MD
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Eliminating crabgrass in Middletown MO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am having trouble with my lawn, specifically with the crabgrass in it. It now covers over 1/3 of it. I started using corn gluten meal this year, with limited tangible success. Corn gluten meal is a pre-emergent and sometimes hit-or-miss on when to apply it. Is there an environmentally responsible POST-emergent weed control product that I can apply to hit the crabgrass on multiple fronts? In the near future, I hope to transition/replace my exotic grass with native alternatives. Thank you.

ANSWER:

We found a website from The University of Illinois Purdue Extension Control of Crabgrass in Home Lawns. We recommend neither for nor against herbicides, so you will have to judge for yourself whether the products suggested in this article are suitable for your purposes. Crabgrass is an annual, so the more you can do to prevent seeding, the better. Mowing twice a week will not necessarily wipe it out, but it should help control it. And the best deterrent for crabgrass is a good, healthy turf. 

Since you mention wanting to replace your non-native exotic grasses with native plants, please read our How-To Article Native Lawns. Of the three grasses mentioned in that article, both Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) are native to Missouri, while the other, Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) is more of a southwestern grass and not native to Missouri. 

Since the grasses should probably be seeded or sodded in Spring in Missouri, we would suggest you start now planning the native area of your lawn, getting rid of the crabgrass in the process, and follow the instructions in the How-To Article on preparing the soil. Out with the Bad Plants, In with the Good.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua gracilis
 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Comparison of native turf with St. Augustine and Kentucky bluegrass
May 11, 2011 - The native turf page mentions outperforming Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, and Kentucky blue, but the graphs only compare the natives to Bermudagrass. How do the native mixes stand up to St. Augustine...
view the full question and answer

Will Habiturf be chicken feed from New Caney TX
November 21, 2013 - How well does your recommended native turf grass mix hold up against chickens or do double duty as feed? I have a mixed use property that will house Rabbits, Poultry (chickens/duck/geese), and ev...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen grasslike plants for Austin TX
April 15, 2008 - Hi, I'm in Austin, TX and looking for some evergreen grass-looking plants. Would you explain the similarities/differences between Butterfly Iris and Lily Grass in this regard? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for Pittsburgh PA
January 30, 2012 - What shrubs can I plant on a wet slope that gets partial sun that will help control erosion? They need to be something the deer won't eat! We have lots of deer.
view the full question and answer

wildflowers with interesting seed heads for winter interest
January 09, 2015 - I am looking to establish a wildflower meadow this year, and I want to include wildflowers that have interesting seed heads for winter interest. What would be your recommendation? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

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