En Español

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

Tuesday - June 18, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Brown blade tips on Habiturf from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

After carefully following all the directions, II recently planted Habiturf and it's growing well. After the first mowing, however, we discovered the top half of the blades turned brown. We have a push-mower, set on the highest setting and it is still very long and shaggy looking. What happened? It's only June and as it gets hotter, I don't want to burn the grass.

ANSWER:

We are sure you have already read our article and video on Habiturf and its associated links, but we are including the reference so others might do so. We are going to read back through those materials and see if we can find any clue as to whether browning stem blades is good,  bad or normal. Here are a couple of paragraphs we found worth repeatiing:

"Mowing.
We suggest a 3 to 4 inch cut for a great-looking, dense turf, resistant to weeds and light to moderate foot traffic. However, a 6- inch cut will produce a beautiful deeper lawn with a few seed heads if watered. Mow once every 3 to 5 weeks when growing and not at all when drought or cold dormant. Mowing shorter —2 inches or less— will damage your lawn's health. Conversely, not mowing at all through the growing season will produce a longer turf (8 inches or so high) with a lower density. This may be acceptable depending on how you use your lawn. However, allowing the grass to seed-out once a year, perhaps when you go on vacation, guarantees a good seed bank - insurance against drought, heavy foot traffic and weeds. It also provides high habitat value.

Make sure that the lawn overwinters as a thick lush turf greater than 4 inches high. Observations have clearly shown that this dramatically reduces weeds the following spring – such as clover, dandelions and thistles. This mean that the last mow should be a high (> 4 inches) mow and no later than Mid-October."

Next, we went to the Internet and found this article from Spring-Green on Lawn Mowing Tips. The quotation below from that article comes as close as we found to answering your question:

"Tip #5: Maintain a healthy lawn by sharpening and balancing your mower blade

We receive grass care inquiries every year about lawns that look brown even after periods of rain and cooler weather. In almost every case, this is the result of a dull mower blade shredding the tips of the grass. When a blade is dull, it rips the turf instead of cutting cleanly. The ripped tips then bleach out and turn brown, giving the whole lawn a tan or brown cast. Having the blade sharpened and balanced once per year is usually not enough especially on larger properties. To keep your grass growing strong, you should touch up your blade edge with a file or have it re-sharpened 2 to 3 times per year."

Even though this particular Mr. Smarty Plants Team member lives in an apartment and hasn't mowed a lawn in years, that is the most reasonable suggestion we found for your browned blade tips.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Removing Center Stem From Desert Spoon (Sotol) in Phoenix
March 11, 2016 - I have a desert spoon. I hate the center stem. Can I remove the center stem without hurting the rest of the plant? And what is the best way to remove it? I looked for this answer in your questions bu...
view the full question and answer

Meadow garden for Colorado Springs CO
June 03, 2012 - We recently purchased a restored home on a mesa just above the downtown area of Colorado Springs on the front range. The previous owners seeded the front lawn with blue gramma and told me that all I ...
view the full question and answer

Turf grasses and alternatives for NH
October 23, 2010 - I live in Hancock, NH, just north of Peterborough. We just bought a relatively new house that pretty-much has no lawn and minimal landscaping. Can you (or anyone) suggest native lawn grass alternati...
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Growing grasses under juniper trees (Juniperus ashei)
October 29, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, Yesterday, I attended the plant sale at the Wildflower Center. I purchased cupgrass and switchgrass seeds only to discover the grasses may need more water than I am willing to u...
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