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

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

What to do about grass dying under pin oaks in Iowa
December 10, 2008 - We have 2 pin oaks about 15 years old in our front yard. The grass has started dying out under and around them. What can we do?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Shady Woodland in MA
June 09, 2013 - Hello, I am looking for natives to plant in full shade or part shade. My house is in the mountain woodland area of Mt. Washington, MA. I am looking for grasses, flowers and shrubs. Also I am looking f...
view the full question and answer

Native water plants for bio-retention pond in North Carolina
July 22, 2009 - I am looking for North Carolina native plants that can take part shade and very wet conditions (bioretention pond environment). Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Plants for wall behind pool in Huntingdon Beach California
May 11, 2009 - I have a backyard pool and I just removed a messy ivy hedge that grew along the back block wall. The plant was shedding too much leaves. I would like the new plant to hide the fence and grow close en...
view the full question and answer

Replacing grass on steep hill in Georgia
June 16, 2009 - I live near Atlanta, Georgia. My yard is a steep hill, which makes mowing VERY challenging. If possible, I would like to remove the grass and plant something hardy that does not require mowing. What p...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center