Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
1 rating

Monday - July 21, 2008

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Conflict between non-native and invasive St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses
Answered by:

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, My neighbor and I have nice front lawns but his is St. Augustine and mine is Bermuda. Between our houses the two lawns meet and it is a constant battle to keep his St. Augustine out of my Bermuda lawn. I have sprayed MSMA several times, which effectively puts a big yellow divide between our yards. Since the yards slope into each other forming a sort of valley for water runoff, I have considered creating a stone bed with large smooth stone all the way down to the street. This way I could maintain the divide with chemicals and avoid the obvious yellow streak. Do you have any suggestions? My neighbor suggested just letting his yard over run my yard. He said, at least that way it could stay green that way.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants will be happy to mediate between you and your neighbor in this turf war. We can be very impartial, because we don't particularly like either grass. St. Augustine, imported many years ago from the West Indies and West Africa as a turfgrass, needs a warm climate to flourish, and is a water guzzler. Bermudagrass was imported from Africa in 1751, and is widely considered as an invasive weed. Gardeners everywhere curse it as it charges into flower beds. Because it has aboveground stolons and belowground rhizomes, getting rid of it is nearly impossible.

The goal of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to protect, propagate and educate about plants native to North America, and to urge that plants native to the area in which they are being grown be used by gardeners. This is because a plant native to an area will need less fertilizer, water and care since it is already accustomed to the conditions that are normal for that area. We realize that neither you nor your neighbor is going to dig up his lawn (and good luck with doing that!) and replace with native grasses and wildflowers. However, we really can't see the point in contention between the two groundcovers. To be honest, your Bermudagrass is more likely to take over his St. Augustine than the other way around. You can't buy St. Augustine turf without it having Bermudagrass in it. During dry seasons, if the St. Augustine is not generously irrigated, the Bermudagrass will begin to take over. And what, pray, is the point of spraying weed killer to mark the boundary between the two? All you're doing is killing something you have gone to some lengths to plant and nourish, and in the process may have let spray drift to other, more valuable plants.

For Pete's sake, just mow it. It's green.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Growing Avocados in South Texas
April 24, 2015 - What types of avocados can be grown in South Texas?
view the full question and answer

What is wrong with cultivars of native plants?
May 26, 2009 - What is wrong with cultivars of native plants? My state native plant society won't allow cultivars at their annual sale, and the native plant nursery from which I order only offers the species. But a...
view the full question and answer

Natural fibers for lashing bamboo in weaving
May 07, 2008 - I live in Austin and am looking for plants I can use for weaving fibers, e.g. lashing bamboo for a small project. What plants and parts do you recommend? What resources do you recommend for informatio...
view the full question and answer

Pruning drought-stressed butterfly plants from Kerrville TX
August 22, 2011 - Due to the drought, our butterfly bushes have dead branches. Ordinarily we prune the dormant plants in winter, but can we cut back dead branches now?
view the full question and answer

Baby in a manger plant from Rock Hill SC
June 28, 2010 - I'm looking for the correct name for baby in a manger(It's a plant.)
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.