En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Friday - September 12, 2008

From: Midlothian, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Groundcovers, Shrubs
Title: How to combat weeds growing in mulch
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at the moment, which is ineffective as a weed barrier, & is covered with fast spreading ground cover type weeds. Would plants or gravel be more effective at combating the weeds?

ANSWER:

Do you have any sort of material under the mulch to keep the weeds from growing?  If not, why not try a covering of black plastic and then topping it with your mulch or with gravel.  Weeds will not grow through it and if you cover it with gravel or mulch, you will have an attractive base and won't be able to see the plastic.  You can find rolls of it in the paint section of home supply stores.  You will need to cut holes to fit around the shrubs that will allow water to get to the shrubs' roots.  There are also fabric type rolls called Weed Block that are reported to keep weed growth in contol while allowing air and water circulation for the soil.  However, they have had mixed reviews.

Groundcover plants would be attractive but they aren't going to keep the weeds away completely.  Here are a couple of groundcovers:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)


Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Freeze damage to dwarf Barbados Cherry in Austin
April 23, 2010 - This past winter was colder than usual here, in the southwestern outskirts of Austin, but I am surprised that my established Dwarf Barbados Cherry, on the south side of my house froze completely to th...
view the full question and answer

Windbreak [Dustbreak] for Shelton, WA
May 31, 2013 - I live on a well traveled, dusty, gravel road in the Pacific North West and would like to plant a barrier to help control the dust.
view the full question and answer

Freeze-back of Hamelia patens in winter in Texas
October 03, 2008 - Will the hamelia patens freeze back in the winter ?
view the full question and answer

Identification of mystery shrub in West Virginia
August 13, 2007 - Hi, my husband and I purchased some land to build a home. After we dug out the driveway a large shrub or tree started growing in the altered dirt that I have never seen and I don't know what it is. I...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Eugenia in Scottsdale AZ
June 02, 2012 - I have 5 eugenia topiaries in my courtyard in pots..I notice as the days here in Phoenix get hotter and dry (as usual) they are starting to look bad, even though they are under a shelter out of the di...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center