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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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Tuesday - June 28, 2011

From: Plano, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Will non-native St. Augustine crowd out non-native bermudagrass in Plano TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have Bermuda sod via builder, looked great for 3+ years. then had crack house neighbors max weeds for 2+ years. Killing them (the weeds) had a toll on the grass. Now a fifth of the LOSER neighbors are putting down St Augustine and it is rampant. Should I give in and let it rule? The only thing that hurts it is Image crab grass killer, but again it puts the hurt on the bermuda.

ANSWER:

Some of your problems Mr. Smarty Plants is not equipped to deal with, but we can help you out with the grasses. First, please step away from the spray can. Image is a post-emergent killer of broad-leaf weeds, which means it not only won't kill the St. Augustine, but can't get at the underground stolons of both grasses. Meanwhile, applications of too much is only polluting your soil and will eventually be washed away to drain into the water supply

Now, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. Both grasses you are dealing with are non-native, and we would not recommend either of them. On the other hand, you seem determined to have a conventional lawn, for which there may not be many good native choices.

To answer your main question, will the St. Augustine crowd out the Bermudagrass? Not likely. We don't know what the sun and shade situations in the adjoining yards are, but St. Augustine is often used because it can tolerate shade. It also requires more water than most lawn grasses. Bermudagrass, on the other hand, can survive without so much water and does not thrive in shade. So, if your lawn is in the sun and you don't over-water it, the St. Augustine is not going to be able to compete with the Bermudagrass. And, even if it does, they are both grasses, they are both green. Just mow them and don't stress out so much.

One last word on your Bermudagrass-it is considered one of the worst invasive weeds in the South, so it's just as well you like it, you're probably going to keep on having it.

 

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