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

Grasses for a prairie in southeast Texas
September 30, 2013 - We have a small place (about 100 acres) in Colorado County, Texas, on the Colorado River north of the town of Weimar. We are gradually clearing (bulldozing) the woods of cedars. One particular spot ...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for native grasses to stabilize hillside Lago Vista, TX.
May 20, 2012 - I was hoping for some advice. We live on a hillside near Lake Travis. 10-12 years ago I removed all cedar trees. There is approximately 1-2 acrees of steep land between our residence and the lake. ...
view the full question and answer

Will Habiturf thrive in Houston?
July 31, 2012 - Will Habiturf grow in partial sun? My lawn is surrounded by trees so that there is only about an hour each day with direct overhead sun. The rest of the day there is a light shade.
view the full question and answer

Need landscape suggestions for area exposed after last flood on Black Creek in Forrest County. MS
September 18, 2009 - We live on the Black Creek in Mississippi. After the last flood, we now have a steep sandy slope which is unmowable, and incredibly weedy. We want to remove the unsightly weeds- kill if necessary, and...
view the full question and answer

Restoring a prairie from Austin
January 11, 2013 - Restoring a mixed grass Blackland Prairie? Prairie Plant Succession? We are trying to establish climax species when an area is in a pioneering phase. Does the soil chemistry or biota change during ...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center