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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 - November 17, 2006

From: Boerne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Frequency of mowing on native grasses
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

I live on 5 acres in TX Hill Country. I love the native grasses when they are high and blowing, etc. My husband insists on mowing, claiming that by mowing, the grasses grow more rapidly over the dry, rocky terrain. To mow or not?

ANSWER:

Most grasses require removal of old growth (either by mowing, grazing, or burning) to initiate new shoots (tillers). If the base of the grass (where new shoots are initiated) is shaded, growth slows down and may even eventually lead to whole plant death. So, probably your grass would do better if it were mowed occasionally. Frequency of mowing depends on all kinds of conditions. As a general rule most hill country native grasses can be mowed at least once a year. However, if you want the species to drop its mature seed, then the mowing should occur after flowering and seed set and at least 1/2 the seeds have fallen from the plants. The timing of this event depends on the species. You can monitor your grasses to know when this has happened.
 

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