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?


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 - December 23, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Compost and Mulch, Seeds and Seeding, Wildflowers
Title: Revegetation of school site with meadow plants from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We are revegetating a hill country school site (typical calciferous soil stripped of vegetation & minimal topsoil) with a native seed mix equal to Native American Seed "Meadow Mix". We have an abundance of mulch from trees/vegetation that was removed from the site. it has aged for 1 year. After the seed is broadcast, what is the maximum depth of mulch that should be placed over the seed? Do we need to wait until spring to plant


We have some really great How-To Articles that will help you with all of your project. We will start with Under Cover with Mulch. Please note particularly the last line under "Good Mulching Practices":

"Mulching inhibits all seeds growth, so leave seeds you may be trying to germinate uncovered."

We will get back to that with some other ideas on using that mulch in your project, but for now, please go to the section of How-To Articles and read all of the articles under "Large Scale Wildflower Planting," including:

Getting Started

Meadow Gardening - Under "When to Plant" in that article, take note of this statement:

"Fall is the best time to plant many native species in Central Texas."

Recreating a Prairie

Seed Collecting and Storage

Obviously, our recommended time for seeding is now past, and the mulch you have should not be spread over the seeds in any circumstances. However, that mulch is pure gold and we hate to see it wasted. Our Best of all Worlds personal recommendation would be to postpone the planting until Fall 2014. In the meantime, till some of that wonderful mulch into your minimal topsoil. Since the mulch has already aged a year, it should be in prime condition to begin loosening up and enriching that worn-out soil. It will become an integral part of a dark, rich soil that is just waiting for your seeds next October.

We believe you have all the components of a successful revegetation and reincarnation of a native meadow; just your timing is a little off. Best of luck!






More Meadow Gardens Questions

Grasses for a prairie in southeast Texas
September 30, 2013 - We have a small place (about 100 acres) in Colorado County, Texas, on the Colorado River north of the town of Weimar. We are gradually clearing (bulldozing) the woods of cedars. One particular spot ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for floodplain near Denton, TX
March 22, 2015 - Hello, I am a member of my HOA board and am researching the possibility of filling in our floodplains with wildflowers. Currently the floodplains are grass only and span a few acres. Our goal is to t...
view the full question and answer

Making a pollinator garden
August 11, 2014 - Hello, I have a ditch right by my house and I want to turn it into a pollinator garden using native plants. My problem is, right now it's so full of weeds that we have to mow those down so soon. For ...
view the full question and answer

Mowing equipment
September 29, 2007 - My 10 acre property along a creek in N. Hays Co. includes roughly 7 acres that is a woodland / meadow mix. I want to find a mower that I can set to a 6" cutting height, yet anything smaller than a fu...
view the full question and answer

How to make a lawn into a prairie in Arlington, Texas
September 15, 2010 - I am removing lawn grasses in order to start a native prairie meadow. After grass removal, I'll put down 1/2" of compost. I will broadcast wildflower seeds on the compost. If I mulch after broadcas...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center