Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: When to mow native prairie grasses in Florence, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

What is best time of year, if any, to mow a native grass prairie? 40 acre creek bottom planted with little bluestem, sideoats, prairie dropseed, love grass, switchgrass, bluegrama, sand dropseed plus lots of wildflowers and misc. grasses and forbs. Located near Florence Tx (west of Georgetown) Thanks

ANSWER:

 All of the prairie grasses you name—Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)—are warm season grasses that are either blooming or getting ready to bloom now at the beginning of summer.  If you want them to reseed your plot, you don't want to mow them now. If you are seeing a lot of tall weeds in your grasses that you want to remove and you can set your tractor/mower high enough to avoid cutting your grasses, you could mow those down. 

Frequency of mowing your prairie grasses depends on all kinds of conditions. As a general rule most Hill Country native grasses can be mowed at least once a year. However, if you want the species to drop its mature seed, then the mowing should occur after flowering and seed set and at least 1/2 the seeds have fallen from the plants. The timing of this event depends on the species. You can monitor your grasses to know when this has happened. 

The short answer then for the grasses you name—if you want your grasses to reseed—is that December through mid-February is the best time to mow to avoid losing seeds.  If you don't care whether they reseed (they are all perennials), then you could actually mow anytime.

There are two entries in our How to Articles that should be useful to you:  1) Recreating a Prairie and 2) Meadow Gardening.

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Removing St. Augustine for natives in Grapevine TX
September 29, 2012 - We have St Augustine in our yard and we hate it. It guzzles water, we have to cut it often, and it's thick and hard to work with. Anyway, we want to replace it with a combination of some kind of g...
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant wetland plants in NY
April 19, 2010 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants - I'm working on a fresh water, shoreline wetland creation project in New York State. I've created two zones of native wetland plantings, an emergent shallow marsh zone ...
view the full question and answer

Need native grasses to re-introduce on land in Live Oak County, Texas.
July 21, 2009 - How do I find out what type of grass is native and how to reintroduce it (once we get some rain)? The area is southern Live Oak County approx 10 miles north of Orange Grove TX, about 2 miles from Lak...
view the full question and answer

Low plants to cover bank too steep to mow
June 26, 2008 - I have a bank along the road that is too steep to mow. This bank faces east and only gets 2 - 4 hours per day of sunlight. I'd like to try ground cover to prevent erosion, however visibility is a p...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.