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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.

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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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Monday - March 03, 2014

From: Grand Prairie, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Planting, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Sheet mulching before planting Habiturf from Grand Prairie, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Have you tried sheet mulching as a bed prep and to kill bermuda grass before planting habituff?

ANSWER:

First of all, we were a little concerned whether Habiturf would be viable in North Central Texas; i.e., Tarrant, Dallas and Ellis Counties, where Grand Prairie is located. We found a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that cited the planting of Habiturf at the George W. Bush Presidential Library at SMU, which is in Dallas County, so we are reassured.

From another previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

"Since Habiturf was developed right here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (home of Mr. Smarty Plants) we certainly recommend Habiturf, and have extensive material on it to answer your questions. Please follow this link: Habiturf The Ecological Lawn and any other links in that answer. Be sure and pay attention to the information on preparing the site for your Habiturf, as that will involve removing unwanted plants and improving the soil quality. We hope you will be very happy with this water-conserving grass."

We recommend you read all the material in the links above, particularly noting the part about developing the soil.

'Soil.
A well-textured, well-drained soil is essential for long-term lawn success. Normally, after construction, developers spread a couple of inches of imported soil over soil compacted by heavy construction machinery. A sustainable lawn needs deep roots, so rip, rotovate or disk your soil to at least 8 inches - the deeper the better. Then incorporate a ½ inch layer of living compost with a low nitrogen and low phosphorus content into the top 3 inches of your prepared soil. Ask your local plant nursery for recommendations. DO NOT use tree bark, wood shavings or mulch. Grass won't grow in this. The soil surface should be finished to a fine granular texture and free from large stones. Note: If you are on undisturbed, uncompacted native soils then till lightly and add ¼ inch compost into the top 1 inch or alternatively add a compost tea."

In reference to your request about smothering bermudagrass, which is considered one of the most invasive weeds in the South, another quotation from the Section on Prepariing the Site for Habiturf:

"Warning.
* If you do not prepare the soil adequately, your lawn will suffer and you will get weeds
* If you mow too often and too short, you will get weeds
* If you over-water, you will get weeds
* If you over-fertilize, you will get big weeds"

And, finally, on getting rid of bermudagrass before you plant Habiturf, see this article on barmudagrass from the University of California Integrated Pest Management program on bermudagrass.

As you can see, getting rid of weeds and bermudagrass is not easy, as we are sure you already know, and mulch would probably not retard it but would almost certainly retard the Habiturf.

 

 

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