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

Monday - December 22, 2008

From: Savannah, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Absence of grass around a willow tree in Georgia
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

In the past three years my Willow tree has grown from a stick to a lovely tree. Unfortunately, the grass under and around the tree is gone. Nothing left but dirt. Is there a remedy?

ANSWER:

Three members of the Salix genus, or willows, are known to be native to Georgia- Salix caroliniana (coastal plain willow), Salix sericea (silky willow) and Salix nigra (black willow). However, it frequently happens that when we are asked about willows, it turns out they were weeping willows, which are non-native to North America. Salix babylonica (Floridata) is native to western China, although it has been used as an ornamental tree for many years in the United States. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are committed to the use and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Because native plants are already adapted to the conditions of rainfall, soil type and climate, they will need less water, fertilizer and maintenance. 

However, in this case, it really doesn't matter if your willow is native or not; your question had to do with the conditions underneath the tree.  Roots of all members of the genus are aggressive and will spread about 3 times the distance from the trunk to the edge of the canopy. They are messy, constantly dropping leaves and twigs, and are prone to many diseases which can leave them with dead areas and an unattractive shape. Groundcovers and grasses simply can't compete with those surface roots taking up all the nutrients, the heavy shade in summer, and the litter that has fallen from the tree. The willow roots also can damage sewer lines and lift sidewalks and paving, and are really suitable only to large properties, where they can be best seen from a distance. It would appear that you will need to accept the bare ground beneath the willow as you would most likely be wasting your time trying to plant more grass.


Salix caroliniana

Salix nigra

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Root barriers for invasive plant roots from neighbor in Austin
July 24, 2011 - My neighbor's invasive plantings are invading my yard. He has Chinese parasol, China berry, Japanese honeysuckle, privets, ligustrums and native Mustang grape vines planted so closely together they ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive roots of Turks Cap in College Station TX
April 29, 2014 - I know people have asked you questions about propagating Turk's Cap, but my question is a little different. I have this plant growing in several locations, because I have a large garden with lots...
view the full question and answer

Weeds in Buffalograss from Edmond OK
September 20, 2012 - We have a patch of buffalograss surrounded by patio/flower garden/vegetable garden. We like B-grass, but are getting a lot of weeds despite preemergents, and some bermuda had appeared. Are there h...
view the full question and answer

White evening primrose from Baton Rouge LA
April 16, 2013 - My husband and I have a disagreement about Mexican Primroses. I believe I have seen patches of them which are pure white. He believes they must be faded pink ones. Do white ones occasionally grow? ...
view the full question and answer

Plant around Pittsburg from Weirton WV
September 19, 2009 - I have seen this plant outside of the Pittsburgh,PA area and was told it is called Midnight Cowboy. It has bright yellow flowers and long green leaves that only comes out at night(so I am told). Ca...
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