En EspaÑol

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
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

Sunday - May 15, 2011

From: Schertz, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Keeping Bermuda out of Native Turfgrass
Answered by: Stephen Scace

QUESTION:

We live on zip code 78154. Sadly our yard has bermuda grass–we are using solarization to kill the bermuda and plant seeds of buffalograss/bluegrama/curly-mesquite. All the neighbors have bermuda and I am not sure how to kept the bermuda seed out of my yard after I plant the new native grasses seeds. Do you have any suggestions? It will be terrible that after all work we see bermuda growing in our yard again. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants agrees it would be terrible, and so he is very happy to pass on what he has seen in the Wildflower Center's research lawns. The idea here is to stack the deck in the natives' favor.

First, of course, you should be very thorough with your efforts to remove your existing Bermuda lawn. Root nodes that remain in your soil would likely be even more bothersome than wind-borne seeds from next door.

Second, seed your new native mix lawn heavily. The denser your new stand of grasses, the harder it will be for unwanted seeds to get started. 

Third, water as little as possible. Mr. Smarty Plants has seen for himself that one of the most weed-free patches of native turf mix grass in our research area was one that had been abandoned after the project ended. Bermuda needs more water than the native mix, so watering less frequently gives the native grasses a competitive advantage.

Fourth, mow tall and infrequently. Bermuda needs sun, so much so that it thrives best when kept at 1.5 inches, while the native mix does best at three to four inches, or even more. The taller native mix forces the Bermuda to grow leggy and thin, up and over the turf, where it is easy to find and remove.

Finally, be diligent in caring for your lawn. Look at it closely and often. Mr. Smarty Plants likes to do this early while the morning is still sweet and cool, and the doves are just waking to call to each other, or in the long summer evenings when shadows finally stretch out and the colors return to the landscape; ah yes, to roll on the lawn with tall cold drink and hunt down the straying, unwelcome Bermuda grass stolons and pluck them out mercilessly–what better way to wind down from a stressful day?

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Unrecognized grass in Habiturf from Spicewood TX
February 07, 2013 - I purchased 2 bags of Habiturf from the Wildflower Center and planted it in late September. Now, early February, the predominant grass is not any of the 3 supposed components of the Habiturf, but look...
view the full question and answer

Questions on non-native St. Augustine from Austin
October 15, 2013 - I have St. Augustine grass in my yard. I am having work done in my yard soon, which will require new sod. I know the St. Augustine has to take root in the ground before the first freeze, to assure t...
view the full question and answer

Watering grass, before or after cutting it
August 21, 2008 - Should I water my grass before or after cutting it, after it has not been watered in a few days along with dry times?
view the full question and answer

Plantings for a slope from New Carrollton MD
June 27, 2012 - My house (Maryland, near DC) sits at the bottom of a south facing slope. The soil is very heavy clay. The grade is about 1:20 for about 100 feet (with a steeper part at the top). Part of the hill is i...
view the full question and answer

Hillside Erosion Control for Gainesville GA
August 07, 2013 - I have a steep bare hill and the runoff from it is heavy this year. I need help with a fast growing groundcover that will help control erosion and runoff. Planting on the hill is difficult because you...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center