Contact Us Host an Event 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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Middletown, MD
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Eliminating crabgrass in Middletown MO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I am having trouble with my lawn, specifically with the crabgrass in it. It now covers over 1/3 of it. I started using corn gluten meal this year, with limited tangible success. Corn gluten meal is a pre-emergent and sometimes hit-or-miss on when to apply it. Is there an environmentally responsible POST-emergent weed control product that I can apply to hit the crabgrass on multiple fronts? In the near future, I hope to transition/replace my exotic grass with native alternatives. Thank you.

ANSWER:

We found a website from The University of Illinois Purdue Extension Control of Crabgrass in Home Lawns. We recommend neither for nor against herbicides, so you will have to judge for yourself whether the products suggested in this article are suitable for your purposes. Crabgrass is an annual, so the more you can do to prevent seeding, the better. Mowing twice a week will not necessarily wipe it out, but it should help control it. And the best deterrent for crabgrass is a good, healthy turf. 

Since you mention wanting to replace your non-native exotic grasses with native plants, please read our How-To Article Native Lawns. Of the three grasses mentioned in that article, both Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) are native to Missouri, while the other, Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) is more of a southwestern grass and not native to Missouri. 

Since the grasses should probably be seeded or sodded in Spring in Missouri, we would suggest you start now planning the native area of your lawn, getting rid of the crabgrass in the process, and follow the instructions in the How-To Article on preparing the soil. Out with the Bad Plants, In with the Good.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua gracilis
 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for steep clay bank in Summerfield OH
April 07, 2012 - Hello, We have a steep 15-20 foot high bank behind our house here in southern Ohio. Probably 50 ft.long. What could we plant for beauty and erosion control. It is nasty clay soil with lots of shale an...
view the full question and answer

Difficult slope in Tarrytown NY
March 03, 2009 - I hope you can help. Is there a way to plant some native shrubs and plants on a steep slope that is filled in some areas with rock without having to tier the slope? The section is approximately 50' w...
view the full question and answer

Low Maintenance Grasses for Montgomery County, Texas
January 24, 2011 - I have to replace a dead lawn. Can you recommend a low maintenance, low water need grass seed for Spring, in Montgomery County, Texas
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Developing fields with native plants from New Egypt NJ
July 24, 2013 - I have several acres of fields that I want to develop with native grasses and flowers. I would like to know the best time to mow the fields so that bushes and volunteer trees don't take over and that...
view the full question and answer

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