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
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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - May 10, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Did pre-emergent herbicide for lawn kill oak tree in Austin?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Your article in today's (May 1st)Austin American-Statesman advised against using herbicides around oaks. Does that include the "pre-emergents" that the lawn care companies use in the Spring? I had a live oak die on me and I suspect it was due to a couple of years of pre-emergent applications.

ANSWER:

A general kills-everything, melts-your-sidewalk herbicide can kill just about anything that can't run away. The pre-emergent that is sprayed on grasses (which are monocots or narrow leaf plants) is intended to kill dicots, which are broadleaf plants. Guess what an oak is? Right, a broadleaf plant. We discourage the use of sprayed-on herbicides because there is always the potential of their moving on to an unintended target. Another downside of the pre-emergent is that many of the "weeds" in your  (probably non-native) lawn grasses are also grasses, often native grasses, but nevertheless unwanted. They will survive and thrive on the pre-emergent spraying, because they are monocots, not the dicots for which the herbicide is intended. Whether this is actually what caused your live oak to die, we can't possibly say, but it sure couldn't have done it any good. And we also discourage letting outside contractors make the decisions about what should be applied in your garden. They may not know what side effects that application might have, they are just doing their job.
 

More Turf Questions

Can Habiturf™ be hydromulched?
July 28, 2014 - Our lawn was originally planted with "Weeping Love Grass" seed by hydromulching. After 7 years we still have some bare spots. Other types of grass have infiltrated the lawn and that does not matter...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf for shady areas in San Antonio TX
November 08, 2013 - Will the Habiturf grass mentioned here do well in shady areas too?
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance native plants for sloping lawn in Maine
June 07, 2005 - Hello, we live in Maine and have clay-ey soil with a lot of sun. I suspect the soil is acidic as well. We would like to replace at least part of our small front lawn with native ground cover or gras...
view the full question and answer

Calyptocarpus vialis, Horseherb, for shady, mowable lawn
April 06, 2007 - Graham, Texas, Heavily wooded. Too shady for St. Augustine grass. Need mowable ground cover near house. Have heard of something called horsewort, but not able to find anything about it.
view the full question and answer

Replacing a Grass Lawn with Moss
January 02, 2010 - I have a small north facing yard that I would like to change from grass to moss. There is some moss now but still lots of grass. I need to rake a lot of leaves in the fall but want to get away from a ...
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