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

Tuesday - June 22, 2010

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant, Trees
Title: Mulching in deep shade in Round Rock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Central Texas: Problem is deep shade and high temps. I noted your advice about danger to the tree when planting beneath shade trees, but wonder if there is a substance - perhaps pine needles - that could be spread (safely) to reduce mud problems when watering. Trees are Red Oak, Chiquapin Oak, Burr Oak.

ANSWER:

Certainly, we have recommended mulch before in areas beneath trees where nothing, or nothing you want, will grow. Pine needles, if they are readily available, will be fine. As they decompose, they will add some acidity to the soil, which shouldn't hurt the trees you mentioned. Ordinarily, we recommend a shredded hardwood mulch because it tends to remain more stable and stay in place. In any case, mulch is nearly always an advantage beneath trees; it will help keep down weeds that CAN grow in that environment, hold moisture in the soil, and protect the tree roots from heat and cold. As it decomposes, it will go into the soil and help improve the drainage in that soil and assist the roots in accessing nutrients in the soil. We think it's attractive and smells pleasant. The mulch will have to be replenished from time to time, but that is much less labor intensive and expensive than constantly replacing plants that will not grow there.

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plant Suggestions for Shady Site under Trees in Alabama
April 03, 2014 - I live in Montgomery, AL and have a bare area (20' x 5) that's shady and soil erosion is a problem. Grass stops growing at the drip line of the trees here. Do you have any suggestions for growing s...
view the full question and answer

Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
October 25, 2013 - When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Stream Bank Erosion Control for Bryan/College Station
August 16, 2012 - I live in the Bryan/College Station area and need a ground cover to abate erosion on the bank of an intermittent stream. The bank is shaded. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Flowering shrub for part shade in Southern California
September 10, 2009 - What shrubs would be able to flourish in morning shade but deal with afternoon sun and 90 plus degrees in the summer months in Southern California? I would like a shrub that is about 5 ft. tall and 3 ...
view the full question and answer

Non-Poisonous, Shade Tolerant Vine for Austin
February 01, 2011 - Hello, I live in northwest Austin and have a very shady wood fence I would like to cover and was thinking about a vine. I have a toddler and a dog so anything poisonous is out of the question. I woul...
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