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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

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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Friday - April 11, 2008

From: OREM, UT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Use of kudzu in landscaping
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

HELLO MR.SMARTY PlANTS,my question is , I need a # of kudzu plants to grow quickly for a huge bare back wall since we are selling our house & have zero anything back there.we are getting comments that the house is just perfect,but the back yard (sorta)STINKS due to the plain,tacky cement wall only..we live in Orem ,Ut. I know it's a very Southern growing plant but know it would be THE only one which could grow so quickly if planted also.I feel it would do ok by May 1ST IF PLANTED here..PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP since need to get something growing back there to sell the house in 3 months time is our scheduled time alotted,(my husband & myselfs') deadline time .

ANSWER:

Come on, you wouldn't pull Mr. Smarty Plants' leg, would you? Kudzu is the poster child for bad decisions in importing non-native plants that become invasive and destructive. We're not real estate experts, but it's improbable that advertising a lovely garden, with a wall draped in kudzu, is going to get you any interest, much less sales. Even if we thought kudzu would grow in your climate, even if we thought it would grow fast enough to cover that wall, we wouldn't help you with that idea. And if you managed it anyway, planted it, it grew, you sold the house and left it, you would probably have former neighbors, not to mention the hapless people who bought your house, hunting you with lawsuits or even tar and feathers. Read this Plant Conservation Alliance Least Wanted for more reasons NOT to get mixed up with this plant.

Ordinarily, when someone asks Mr. SP about invasive plants, we try to make some suggestions for alternatives. In your case, there isn't going to be enough time for your self-assigned deadline for anything that will grow in your climate to cover that offensive wall. So, how about this? Clean up whatever is in the back yard. If it's weeds, mow it. If it's grass, mow it, edge it, pull out any noticeable weeds. Trim and tidy up shrubs or trees. And the wall? Have you ever considered a gallon of masonry paint? Pick a nice soft background color, maybe green. Get a couple of rollers with special pads designed for painting on cement, and a few hours should make it look a whole lot better. Still not satisfied? Put a few green, maybe even blooming, shrubs in front of it to distract attention. Don't want to spend money on shrubs you're going to leave behind? Put them in large pots-that will give them even more height, more interest in front of the wall, and you can put them on the truck when you move.

For still more ideas on landscaping to sell, see this About.com article on Home Landscaping Ideas for the Real Estate Market.

 

 

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