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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

 

 

 

 

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