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?

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

Saturday - August 18, 2012

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Seasonal Tasks, Grasses or Grass-like, Wildflowers
Title: Mowing frequency of native lawn from Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a native grass and wildflower lawn. At what frequency and when should the lawn be mowed?

ANSWER:

What you have is a Meadow Garden. Please follow our the link to our How-To article on that subject.

This answer would vary if you lived in, say, Minnesota, there would be a different time frame with respect to climate. But in Central Texas, we can give you a better idea. You didn't say what native grass you have. If you have lots of sun, it is probably either Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) or a mix of that with Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass).

Please read our How-To Article on Native Lawns: Buffalograss. Note this paragraph in that article:

"Established buffalograss lawns should be mowed occasionally, but never shorter than three inches. Mowing at least once a year will ensure a healthier lawn, the best time being late winter before new growth begins. If not mowed periodically, an established lawn will become choked and decline after several years. If you like a clean, uniform look, you may want to mow more often."

You might also have a fairly newly developed Habiturf in your lawn. Here is extensive information on that grass: Habiturf: The Ecological Lawn.

 Information about mowing from those articles:

"Mowing.
We suggest a 3 to 4 inch cut for a great-looking, dense turf, resistant to weeds and light to moderate foot traffic. However, a 6- inch cut will produce a beautiful deeper lawn with a few seed heads if watered. Mow once every 3 to 5 weeks when growing and not at all when drought or cold dormant. Mowing shorter —2 inches or less— will damage your lawn's health. Conversely, not mowing at all through the growing season will produce a longer turf (8 inches or so high) with a lower density. This may be acceptable depending on how you use your lawn. However, allowing the grass to seed-out once a year, perhaps when you go on vacation, guarantees a good seed bank - insurance against drought, heavy foot traffic and weeds. It also provides high habitat value.

Make sure that the lawn overwinters as a think lush turf greater than 4 inches high. Observations have clearly shown that this dramatically reduces weeds the following spring – such as clover, dandelions and thistles. This mean that the last mow should be a high (> 4 inches) mow and no later than Mid-October."

It would appear to us that mowing schedules for these grasses is pretty flexible, which means you could choose the mowing time based on what the wildflowers need. Best practice, mow them after they have dropped their seeds, usually in the Fall.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Restoring a slope in the Mississippi sandhill region
August 01, 2011 - We are building on 5 acres (leaving 60% as is, natural). Only building a small (900-1200 sq ft house) & clearing 1 acre of the valley for a pond. There is a steep slope (where we had to put field dra...
view the full question and answer

Difference between Pseudoroegneria spicata and Elymus trachycaulus
May 21, 2007 - What is the difference between Pseudoroegneria spicata and Elymus trachycaulus.
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant plants for MA
August 28, 2011 - We have some very very poor soil at our house on Cape Cod and are looking for plants that will take low water and sandy soil. Also we are high on a hill and quite exposed to the elements. The plot get...
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native invasives with native grasses and wildflowers from Round Rock TX
April 04, 2012 - I have a small piece of property (1.5 AC) East of Austin, Texas that get's overgrown with weedy vegetation (johnson grass, dandelion, and some tall yellow flowering plant that I see all over the medi...
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