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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: West Columbia, , SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Ways to eliminate non-native bermuda grass from West Columbia SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Could you kill bermuda grass by heavy over-fertilizing it? Or black, solid plastic cloth? Thanks


Cynadon dactylon, bermudagrass. Guess what? We don't like it, either. It is native to Africa (not Bermuda) and has become one of the most invasive weeds in the South. See this University of California  Integrated Pest Management article on how to get rid of it.

We wouldn't recommend over-fertilizing anything. It's chancy whether it will cause the plant to "grow itself to death" which we have heard of, too. And the excess fertilizer will be right there available to wash off into the street and straight to your rivers and water supply. On the subject of excluding the light from the plants by  black plastic, here is a quotation from the article above:

"Mulches of black plastic or geotextile landscape fabric can also be effective over large areas if light is excluded."

Whatever you do, remember it will not be quick and easy. The reason bermudagrass is so invasive is that it can spread above and below ground, via stolons (aboveground) and rhizomes (belowground). You don't just do it with one operation, because still unsprouted seeds are likely still in there, as well as the rhizomes, which can hold nutrients for the grass to rise again long after you thought the top part was dead. 


More Non-Natives Questions

Safe distance from foundation for Sycamore from Preston UK
August 24, 2011 - What would be the safe distance to have a sycamore tree near your house so it doesn't affect the foundations?
view the full question and answer

Are non-native hostas causing fly invasion from Eastpointe MI
July 14, 2013 - I live in Michigan with a small backyard. I have 5 large hostas with the purple flower blooms which are located by my patio. I was wondering if they can be causing my large population of unwanted flie...
view the full question and answer

Non-native, invasive Arctium minus in New York
June 13, 2006 - For as long as I can remember, my family has been picking and eating a wild plant which we and other Italian families call " cardoons". I've often heard to it referred to burdock but no one knows t...
view the full question and answer

Growing fruits and vegetables from Holbrook NY
April 06, 2012 - I have been looking for information on what plants, vegetables and fruits can be grown on Long Island NY to provide a sustainable food source for a community in the event of food becoming scarce. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Non-native pothos ivy from Houston
May 30, 2013 - My pothos devils ivy is about 5 years old and grows outside. A couple of years ago its leaves became spectacularly large, like 12" wide and its stalk about 1 - 2" wide. A couple of years ago i gui...
view the full question and answer

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