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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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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

 

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