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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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Saturday - February 23, 2013

From: Grapevine, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Wildflowers
Title: Will native plants become invasive from Grapevine TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Main Question - I want to convert my front and back yards into a native plant sanctuary but worry about if these plants growing out of control/invasive and if neighbors will complain about these "weeds" spreading to their lawns. So I thought about starting by planting some wildflowers around my house and my husband asked me "are these weeds?" and I guess native plants can be considered "weeds" by some and maybe some of them might even grow too fast? Do any of your native plants ever grow out of control because they are easier to grow? I want to grow some nice native plants and make the yard look pretty but I also don't want certain plants to go out of control and take over the yard or anything that turns invasive or anything like that. Also, right now we have some "weeds" in our current lawn and around our house (henbit, dandelions, jasmine, etc) and my husband hates it and wants to spray it because it feels like it's taking over the yard, and also the big concern is that these weed seem to be slowlyy spreading into a neighbors' yards and they might soon get annoyed at us. So my question is, would a lot of native plant seeds blow into neighbor's perfect lawns and would they complain about these "weeds" popping up there. I really want to turn my yards into a native plant area but I do worry about if turning it into this would over take the yard and and get overgrown quickly and sprout everywhere like weeds or if these seeds will get into neighbor yards and if they will complain. Just wanted to know your opinions. Thanks!

ANSWER:

We have pondered a while on how to answer such a complex question. It seems to us you have two major concerns:

1. How can I avoid irritating my neighbors with my garden plans? This seems to be of most concern to you, and since we don't know your neighbors, you will have to be the judge of that.

2. How can I create a wildflower meadow and preserve these plants?

Now, we have some questions to ask you. This is not a test, we don't want an answer. You need to figure out the answers for yourself and act accordingly.

1. What sort of lawns do you and your neighbors have? If either or both of you have bermudagrass, you already are growing one of the most invasive non-native weeds in the South. It does not do well in shade. If either or both of you are growing St. Augustine grass in your lawn, you have a non-native grass which can grow in shade or sun, but needs LOTS of water, not good in our Texas drought.

2. Is your property in a Homeowner's Association? If so, you have bigger problems than your immediate neighbors. Before you turn a single shovel of dirt, find out if you do and learn the exact restrictions on how much grassy area is required, how much it must be mowed, etc.

In general, we think you should understand that growing wildflowers, or any kind of plants, is not a case of flinging out a packet of mixed seeds. Because we can't possibly give you instruction on every phase of your plans, here are some links that should help you:

Previous Mr. Smarty Plants question on planning a landscape. You need to understand the problems of sufficient light, access to water, and soils. This article should help you with the preparation work.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website on Invasive Plants, so you can understand the difference between "vigorous" and "native" and "invasive."

From our How-To Articles: A Guide to Native Plant Gardening.  In fact, we suggest you read all of our How-To Articles for a wealth of information and advice on what you want to do.

Oh, and one last word - ixnay on spraying herbicides. It will drift and kill things you didn't want dead. Pull the weeds out, keep them from seeding and stay after it. Pesticide is a dangerous thing, and not a magic wand.

 

 

 

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