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

Monday - November 07, 2011

From: Belton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Grasses or Grass-like, Trees
Title: Is sulfurous well water affecting leaves on trees in Belton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We installed an irrigation system for our buffalo grass lawn last spring. The grass is fine but the leaves on the trees are burned where the water hits them. I suspect that the well we are using for irrigation, which is sulfurous, may be the cause of this. The water test showed ph of 8.1 and sulfate 80 mg/L (testing limit). It doesn't seem to bother the live oaks but the elms and other trees' leaves look burned. Higher up the tree where the water doesn't spray, the leaves are fine. What to do? We thought our plants would love the extra minerals. We water in very early morning, so I know it's not leaf burn from water droplets.

ANSWER:

Just when we think we have heard everything, a question like this comes along. So, we had to do some research. The best article we found on this was from eHow Health on The Effect of High Sulfure Content in Tap Water, from which we extracted this:

"If you turn on the water in your home and it smells like rotten eggs, it is a safe bet that you have a high sulfur count in your water. Sulfur is a mineral that exists naturally in groundwater, since rain and surface water seeps through rocks in the earth and picks up minerals present in the rocks. It is one of the minerals that is measured during a water quality test."

If you are also using that water for drinking, you might want to read the whole article for information about how it can affect health, especially of young children, as well as plumbing and water heaters, not to mention the smell. However, we could find no mention that it affected plants adversely in any way.

So, we have two suggestions. First, the reason for planting Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is that it does not need a whole lot of watering. Just don't use any more than you need to in order to keep the grass going. Second, if possible, reset the sprinkler system so it sprays lower. Water thrown up in the air is partially wasted by evaporation into the air, anyway, and if it looks like the water is hurting the leaves, don't hit them with irrigation water any more.


 

More Trees Questions

What grows in Tampa FL
July 01, 2013 - Please let me know what grows in the backyard in Tampa, FL to provide screening and privacy?
view the full question and answer

Lifespan of pecan from Austin
February 26, 2014 - What is the lifespan of a pecan tree? I've seen several places say up to a thousand years, but I'd always thought it was closer to around 300 years. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant trees for privacy in Texas
January 09, 2015 - I need to find a deer resistant tall shrub or tree to plant and hide the deer fence my neighbor just put up on our property line. My property has full sun in parts and mostly shady in other parts and ...
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping neglected garden in Franklin CT
April 03, 2011 - I am starting from scratch in a yard that has no planting beds or, for that matter, plants at all. House was vacant for quite some time, grass was three feet tall when we moved in. I would like to p...
view the full question and answer

Oak Sucker Reprise
May 02, 2015 - ----Original Question---- SUNDAY - JULY 06, 2014 Title: Live Oak Suckers Reprise, Austin TX QUESTION: Referring to an entry dated March 11, 2011 about Live Oak suckers - what happened to the su...
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