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

Habiturf installation after Take-All fungus
January 24, 2012 - Are other soil remedies needed (besides those listed in your Habiturf brochure) to install Habiturf on land which had a St. Augustine lawn which was decimated by take all patch.
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Habiturf in Austin
May 10, 2014 - I have been trying to establish a Habiturf lawn in my back yard. It is approximately a 1,000 square foot area and this last seeding was the third over about one and a half years. I just recently over ...
view the full question and answer

Juncus effusus Twister question
June 07, 2009 - I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I bought a Juncus Effusus,"Twister", and was wondering if it can be brought in the house during winter as a house plant or is it just an annual that will die in ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent creekside erosion in Nacogdoches County, Texas
December 09, 2014 - I am looking for some advice on plants native to Texas that can help prevent erosion. I own a wooded lot with a creek and would like to consolidate the sides of the creek against potential erosion. I...
view the full question and answer

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