Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - January 23, 2013

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Mexican feathergrass from Pflugerville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How deep are the roots of Nassella tenuissima? I'm looking for something that could possibly discourage my neighbors' bermuda grass from encroaching into my native plantings.

ANSWER:

From our website on Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass):

"It is native in North America only to mountains in west Texas and adjacent New Mexico south to central Mexico, but it has become widely used throughout hospitable areas of the US and elsewhere."

We could find not specific lengths of the roots of this native plant, but generally speaking, grasses have long fibrous roots, the length of which can range from 3 ft. to 40 ft. As noted in some literature we have seen, Mexican Feathergrass can even become invasive in an area that suits it very well. But, it will never be as invasive and obnoxious as the non-native bermudagrass, which is considered one of the most invasive weeds in the South. Here is a similar previous Mr. Smarty Plants question to yours which also deals with the problem of a neighbor's bermudagrass.

On the use of the Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass) as a barrier, it's not a bad idea. It's also pretty aggressive, it's tough and attractive, low water use, etc. We still don't think it will totally block out the neighbor's grass, because the bermudagrass has two weapons in its armory: above-ground stolons and below-ground stolon. Even if you block the grass from the yard next door, there are already below-ground stolons waiting to pop up on your side of the Mexican feathergrass wall. One suggestion that we have that could help is that bermudagrass does not do well in shade; if you can find a way to shade out the invading grass, including with the taller feathergrass, you could make some progress. See this previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on using solarization to deal with bermudagrass. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Mexican feathergrass
Nassella tenuissima

Mexican feathergrass
Nassella tenuissima

Mexican feathergrass
Nassella tenuissima

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for slopes in South Texas
October 05, 2009 - Can you provide a list of plants for use on slopes in S. Texas?
view the full question and answer

Native grass mix suitable for Houston
December 10, 2009 - Do you have a native grass mix that is appropriate to the Houston area- or will the one you have developed to this point work as well here as it does in Central Texas? If not, when will you begin to ...
view the full question and answer

User comment on native grass mixes from Robstown TX
March 21, 2014 - As a followup to my question on seed spreaders, native grass and prairie seed mixes seem a good fit for my location in far western Nueces County which is more semi-arrid than 30 miles away in Corpus w...
view the full question and answer

Grass for family cemetery in Gallatin TX
August 20, 2009 - Recently, we made a family cemetery, and are now trying to find a type of grass that will make a healthy lawn for it. What would be an appropriate species to plant here?
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for Boy Scout project in the Georgetown-Washington DC area
May 29, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am in the process of preparing an extensive native grass planting at Thompson's Boat House in Georgetown, Washington DC for a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Project. It is m...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.