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
1 rating

Saturday - January 02, 2010

From: Solgohachia, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Septic Systems, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Raised beds over lateral lines in Solgohachia AR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to build raised flower beds over my lateral lines. They would be planted with strawberries and perennials. Will this cause any problems with the absorption into the ground or not letting it dry up?

ANSWER:

There shouldn't be any problem with raised beds over lateral lines; in fact, the moisture from the lines will probably benefit the plants you choose. When you say you wish to plant "perennials," your concern needs to be more with the roots of the desired plants. We usually recommend grasses to go over lateral lines, because they have fibrous roots that will not interfere with the lines. However, we assume that what you want are herbaceous blooming perennials. What you need to avoid are perennials that become woody, with extensive woody roots, which will interfere with the lateral lines.

From our Native Plant Database:

"Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry), native to Arkansas,  is a ground-hugging plant rising from a fibrous, perennial root system. Hairy leaf petioles, up to 6 in. long, each bear a single trifoliate leaf. The hairy flower stalk gives rise to a loose cluster of small, five-petaled flowers followed by tasty, wild strawberries. Found in patches in fields and dry openings, this plant produces the finest, sweetest, wild strawberry. The edible portion of the strawberry is actually the central portion of the flower (receptacle) which enlarges greatly with maturity and is covered with the embedded, dried, seed-like fruit."

Cultivated strawberries are hybrids developed from this native species and the South American one. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, propagation and care of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. A hybrid, which is probably what you intend to use, falls outside our expertise. However, we are going to assume that the cultivar (cultivated variety) will also have fibrous roots and therefore be appropriate for planting over your lateral lines. 

We will go to our Recommended Species, click on Arkansas on the map, and then select "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) under GENERAL APPEARANCE and "perennial" under DURATION. From this, we will try to select plants that do not become woody as they mature and that would be useful in your garden.  We do not intend this to be a list of plants you must use, but only indications of the kind of plant we recommend you use. You can make your own selections, using this same method, inserting specific site requirements for sun exposure, soil moisture and so forth.  Follow each plant link to our page on that plant to learn the expected size, bloom time, etc.

From our Native Plant Database:

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Callirhoe digitata (winecup)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Fragaria virginiana

Aquilegia canadensis

Callirhoe digitata

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera speciosa

Ratibida columnifera

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Growing grasses under juniper trees (Juniperus ashei)
October 29, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, Yesterday, I attended the plant sale at the Wildflower Center. I purchased cupgrass and switchgrass seeds only to discover the grasses may need more water than I am willing to u...
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

Severely cutback sloping soil in Dripping Springs TX
May 09, 2010 - We have 5.5 acres off Henly Loop just north of Hwy 290 about 10 miles west of Dripping Springs, TX. The former property owners carved out soil from a sloping area to get soil for the driveway. Doing ...
view the full question and answer

Wildlife and bird friendly hedgerow for Chicago suburb
November 30, 2013 - Want to plant a wildlife/bird friendly hedgerow in suburban Chicago. Looking for a recommended mix of understory trees as well a shrubs and grasses. Site is part shade with average to wet soil and tr...
view the full question and answer

Drainage pond plantings from Mason MI
April 23, 2012 - We have a drainage pond in our back yard. It has a large muddy bank and some steep sides where erosion has started to take its toll. We are looking for some Michigan/Mid-Western native plants that w...
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