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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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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!

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Thursday - March 20, 2014

From: Robstown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Use of hand-held seed spreader from Robstown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am planting native turf grass and prairie grasses as part of a backyard restoration on my 1.6 acre home site. My problem is good seed dispersal for the chaffey grass seeds. Have you have any luck with hand-held seed spreaders that do a good job of this? I have tried the "feed the chickens" method but am starving some of the chickens!

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is very in favor of native turf and prairie grasses, and applauds your efforts. This member of the Smarty Plants Team has, we regret to say, no personal experience with seed dispersal, having managed in 60-some years of gardening to never get involved with planting a lawn. We don't know what grass mix you are using, but have lots of information on the preparation and planting of Habiturf - A multi-species grass mix for North, West and Central Texas from our Ecosystem Design Group.

Since you are in Nueces County, south Texas on the Gulf Coast, Habiturf might not be optimum for your region, but we feel the information on the grass mix, including some on hand-held seed spreaders might help you make the decision. Please read the article on Habiturf referenced above and especially note this paragraph:

"Sow.
Sow the seed — the small, hand-cranked seed broadcasters are great or by hand — and rake and press with a garden roller or your feet. Seeds need good soil contact. Spring is the best sowing time once soil temperatures warm up (day time temperatures constantly above 85F). Later in the growing season also works well but will require more water. Avoid sowing in late fall and winter (October through mid-March)."

When we don't know the answer to a question, we always resort to Google but, alas, there was nothing but advertisements under that heading. However, we thought that even some of those might be of help. Try this ad for Scotts Handy Green II Hand Held Broadcast Spreader.

Next, on your plans for prairie grasses, please read our How-To Article,  Recreating a Prairie. This is probably instruction for something larger scale than what you are attempting, but at least it's in the right direction.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

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...
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Plants for a sandy slope in NY
April 18, 2011 - I can really use your help. I have a steep very, very sandy slope I need to plant to stop the erosion. It gets sun from 9:00 to 2:00. I plan on adding an irrigation system in the area. Planting is goi...
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What is a lawn broom from Cibolo TX
February 15, 2013 - Concerning gulf muhly grass you mention using a lawn broom to get rid of the dead stalks. What is a lawn broom? What does it look like? Where can I purchase one?
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Plants for seeping hillside and muddy bottom area
October 28, 2009 - We live on the north side of Lake Travis. About half acre of our property is currently planted with natives. The other half consists of a huge limestone ledge, a steep slope with little soil that seep...
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Bioswale in Orange CA
September 08, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for plants for a bio-swale in Southern California. Do you have any suggestions for plants that do well in water but can also can handle long dry summers?
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