En Español

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

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 20, 2005

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils
Title: Smarty Plants on mulch and organic material
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live near Canyon Lake, just north of San Antonio in a new subdivision. I call on you for advice, as I have attended several classes there and hope you can help. Several areas on our property and neighbors' were scraped off during construction, or when trenching for utilities, leaving a bare, white scar of ground up limestone on the surface. As you know, when water is added, it turns hard as the rock it is. I read the article on restoration (Restoration: The basics on how to repair your land by Steve Windhager, Ph.D.) which contains wonderful information, but to step back, before any restoration can begin, we are asking ourselves what do we need to do to this hard surface to prepare it to receive even a tough native? I am a Master Gardener, and my suggestion was to shallowly cultivate it to loosen it up, then add organic matter and mulch. Is this the proper technique to initially prepare this chopped up rock for seeding? Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

You are doing exactly the right thing by adding mulch and organic material to the scraped soil. Loosening the surface and working the added material into the limestone material is very effective, but you can also apply topsoil with mulch on the surface effectively without loosening the surface underneath. Be aware that you need to monitor for unwanted weeds that come in as a part of anything you are putting on your plot.

 

More Soils Questions

Proper soil for Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
April 18, 2006 - I live in San Antonio. Have taken landscape course at the center several years ago-(fabulous)! I am putting in a raised portion of the garden this year with Blackfoot Daisies. Can you tell me where...
view the full question and answer

Nassella tenuissima for Woodland Hills CA
June 30, 2013 - Good afternoon, I wanted to purchase some already grown Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) and was wondering how often and for how long I would need to water said grass on a scheduled sprinkl...
view the full question and answer

Soil for Emory Oak from Dripping Springs, TX
April 15, 2012 - I bought an Emory Oak today at the Wildflower Center's plant sale. Upon reading about it when I got home, I see "it won't grow in alkaline soils." I was hoping to plant it in the riparian area ...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Chestnut Oak in Waukesha WI
September 13, 2009 - Bought and had nursery install a 4" diameter, 16' tall chestnut oak. Watered it as instructed-every 2nd or third day-hose stream size of my pinky for 45-60 minutes. It was planted in July. Just l...
view the full question and answer

Care of Ixora by lowering soil pH
March 24, 2007 - I have a bunch of Ixoras that the leaves are turning brown, before I pull them out, is there any kind of treatment to save them? I have used insecticidal soap several times but there has been no impro...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center