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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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Sunday - January 18, 2009

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Non-Natives, Soils, Trees
Title: How soon after stump grinding can something else be planted?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How soon after cutting down a Mulberry and grinding up the stump can we plant a new tree in its place?

ANSWER:

Actually, from personal experience, the soil around a recently ground stump is very good. Those small chips of wood left in the soil, as they decompose, make a good organic amendment to the soil. You will need to fill in the hole left by the removal of the stump with good dirt. When we say "good", we mean dirt that hopefully is not full of weed seeds, so don't just go out in the field and dig some up. If it's not too huge a hole, you might even consider using sterile potting soil, mixing the potting soil, native soil and wood chips together, and watering. Although you could probably plant there immediately, it wouldn't hurt to let it rest for a month or so, meanwhile watching to make sure no sprouts from the mulberry roots pop up. In an effort to survive, the tree roots left behind by the grinder may start putting out adventitious sprouts. Cut them off or pull them off as they pop up, and finally the roots will run out of stored nutrients and give up. Those roots, too, will eventually decompose in the soil; keeping the soil moist will help to speed up that decomposition.

 

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