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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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. 

 

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