En EspaŅol

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

Wednesday - April 13, 2011

From: Tucson, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting
Title: Possibility of contaminants leaching from asphalt driveway to adjacent vegetable garden in Tucson
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have planted a vegetable garden next to a driveway. The driveway has recently (within the last 2 years) been covered with asphalt. My concern is that the oil may leach into my vegetables. Is this a relevant concern?

ANSWER:

We don't know how relevant this is, but we do believe it is a matter of concern. You understand that Mr. Smarty Plants is neither a chemist nor a soils analyst. We also want to explain that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which they are being grown. Just about all vegetables qualify as non-native, either because they were introduced from another part of the world, or because they have been so hybridized or genetically altered that they no longer resemble the original plant. This means we are not experts on vegetable gardens, either, nor will those plants be in our Native Plant Database. So, we have assembled some links that look like they might be of some help to you in researching the answer to your question.

The National Society of Consulting Soil Scientists: PAH contamination of soil by asphalt.

The Journal of Environmental Cleanup Costs, Technologies and Techniques: Contribution of common sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons to soil contamination.

Concrete Paver's Guide: The Asphalt Driveway - What You Need to Know

These are all technical papers, which we don't understand, and don't mind admitting it. We would suggest you contact the  University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Office for Pima County. They are connected to a university, maybe someone there knows the answer.

Bottom line: We, personally, would not eat the vegetables. You could always have some kind of ornamental garden there; it might still be absorbing contaminants but if no one eats the plants, there would be little cause for alarm.

 

 

More Planting Questions

Probably non-native crapemyrtle trees damaged by hurricane
January 15, 2009 - I have 5 crape myrtle trees. I live in Galveston, Tx and when Hurricane Ike came through in September the salt water I think killed them. They have not come back since then and are brown with no leave...
view the full question and answer

Planting Live oak trees in Katy, TX.
November 03, 2012 - We are building a house in a neighborhood where the HOA requires two live oaks in the front yard. Our lot is pie shaped leaving a very small front yard once you take into acct the driveway and sidewal...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet Planting in January in Lockhart
January 23, 2014 - My husband has yet again failed for the second year straight to put out the bluebonnet seeds in our backyard back in October. Is it too late now that it's mid January for me to get them in the groun...
view the full question and answer

Would like a small tree for yard in Las Vegas, NV.
May 31, 2013 - would like a small tree with root system that grows down not spread on surface. Had raywood and medesto ash tree both died of desease. Diagnosed by arborist. Stated that these trees to big for my yard...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for shade in Ennis TX
August 26, 2011 - My house faces south. The southwest side of the front yard has a Pride of Houston, Japanese Barberry, 2 crape myrtles and some dwarf yaupon hollies. The other section, divided by a stairway to the p...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center