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 - January 12, 2011

From: Gilroy, CA
Region: California
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Getting rid of algae on dirt and patio
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Algae and on patio and dirt, and how to get rid of same?

ANSWER:

I'm guessing you meant to say "algae and (moss) on patio and dirt".  Am I right?  If you have either one in such a situation, you usually have both.  The reason they are growing there is that they are experiencing continuous moisture and very little sunshine.  Those are two of the major requirements for algae and moss to grow.  First, we will talk about your soil.  Poor drainage is very likely a major factor with soil that remains moist.  If your soil is very dense and compacted, aerating it and adding compost and/or mulch to it will improve its drainage.  The University of California Cooperative Extension Service has an article, "Moss and Algae Do Well in Wet Weather and Poorly Drained Soils", that offers other suggestions for eliminating algae and mosses which include applications of copper sulfate, ferrous sulfate or ferrous ammonium sulfate.  Another recommendation from the Yard Doctor: Central Northwest suggests using sodium hypochlorite (or copper sulfate) in a 1% or 2% solution to spray the area.

If you Google the terms "eliminating algae from patio", you will get lots of suggestions for removing algae from patio bricks which include power washing, dilute bleach solutions and algaecides.  Again, changing the elements that cause the problem (poor drainage and too much shade), are important in order to keep the algae from returning.  How you remove the algae depends on the size of the area, the intensity of its growth and what plants or structures are nearby that might be impacted by the treatment.  Here are a couple of sites that have suggestions:  from Desmesne and from the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK.  You can consult a reputable local nursery or home supply store to find the most effective and ecologically responsible algaecides.  I would also suggest you contact your Santa Clara office of the University of California Cooperative Extension Services for suggestions for removing the algae.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Brown flakes on prickly pear in Los Angeles
June 03, 2008 - I live in Los Angeles CA. I have desert type plants in my landscape. I have prickly pear cactus that have developed some light brown, almost golden flakes on the skin of the pads. I believe it is call...
view the full question and answer

Why is my Ash drooping?
June 22, 2009 - Last spring, I bought a house in Austin, TX with a large Ash tree in the front yard. It looked fine last year, but has been looking funny since it leafed out this spring. It's as if the leaves are we...
view the full question and answer

Effect of heavy rains on Lindheimer Muhly
May 04, 2015 - It is April 2015, in San Antonio we've had very heavy rains recently. My Lindheimer muhly, which was looking beautiful, has now turned brown all over. Is this normal or is this a problem?
view the full question and answer

Aromatic sumac in Travis County
August 14, 2010 - This is an answer to article in today's, August 14, newspaper. I assume that aromatic sumac is native to Travis county because I have it all over my property. It turns bright red in the fall adding...
view the full question and answer

Tulip trees losing bark in OH
July 11, 2011 - We have two tulip trees in our yard that are losing their bark at the base of the trunk. I am careful with the mower keeping away from the tree when I mow. What could the problem be and what can I d...
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