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?


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

Friday - September 22, 2006

From: stephenville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Control methods for Cenchrus spinifex, Coastal sandbur
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I have some of the nicest, thickest, greenest grassburs in the county of Erath. What is the best and quickest way to get rid of them? I have heard of a product called cornmeal gluten. Any info appreciated.


While more than one species of grassbur occurs in your area, the one plagueing you is probably Coastal grassbur or Coastal sandbur, Cenchrus spinifex. A grass itself, grassbur is a common, troublesome weed in pastures, lawns and other turf areas.

Grassbur thrives in overgrazed or otherwise struggling turf, especially nutrient-poor turf. Healthy turfgrass will typically outcompete Cenchrus. Improved turf health is the surest strategy for ridding the lawn of grassburs.

Corn gluten is a popular and effective pre-emergent herbicide useful for some annual weeds, especially crabgrass and dandelion. We have not heard of its use for control of grassbur, but it might be somewhat effective if for no other reason than it contains about 10% nitrogen, which your turfgrass will appreciate. The timing of corn gluten application is critical. To be effective, it must be put down just before weed seeds germinate.

I am forwarding some information on turfgrass management that you might find useful. This link is to an article from our Native Plant Clearinghouse on native lawns. Also, here is more information about Cenchrus spp. and their control.


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Replacing hawthorn bush with muhly grass from Plano TX
April 10, 2014 - I am thinking of replacing a hawthorn bush with a muhly grass plant or two in an edged area with river rock cover in Plano, texas. It is the black soil and not a sandy loam. We have a sprinkler syst...
view the full question and answer

Winter groundcover for shaded backyard in Austin
January 10, 2013 - I live in south Austin and have a shaded backyard. During the summer, the lawn died and the ground is now bare. I'd like to plant some kind of winter grass or ground cover that will hold the soil i...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for South Texas Coast
April 02, 2010 - Grasses S. Texas Coast. Hello! I love all of the information available in your database Mr. Smarty Plants database (as well as the rest of the site) and find it quite useful on many fronts. My...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for landscaping along a creek in Lenoir, NC
July 25, 2011 - I live in Lenoir, NC and would like to landscape my creek bank that is about 90 feet long and is 200 feet from my house. I thought about evergeen bushes maybe rhododendron; some grasses; a few trees ...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of root rot in Praire flame-leaf sumac
July 08, 2004 - I bought a prairie sumac two years ago and it was fine until recently when we had a lot of rain in Austin. Now the leaves are all brown and it appears to be dying. Is there something I can do? I reall...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center