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

Thursday - February 23, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Lawn fertilizer in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My lawn person wants to spread granulated spring fertilizer on my lawn. Problem is I have a very old Live Oak tree that I do not want to kill. What should I avoid spreading on my lawn to prevent toxic reaction for my beautiful Live Oak?

ANSWER:

If this is "weed and feed," please, NO. Consider: there are two kinds of plant killers that can be included in a granulated fertilizer. One kills only monocots, which grasses are. The other kills dicots or wide-leaf plants. If you use the monocot killer, you will kill your grass. If you use the dicot killer, what kind of plant do you think that tree is? Right, a dicot, wide-leaved. Of course, many of the weeds in your grass are dicots, that's why that kind of herbicide is often used on lawns, but just consider how many other dicots that you have lovingly planted and watered are in the same area. Those granulated fertilizers, whatever is in them, will dissolve in the water of rain and sprinklers and be taken up in the water by the roots of the plants. The tree will use its vascular system to spread that chemical-laden water up through the entire tree. Sure, it may be a small amount in a big tree, but it also can accumulate. It might not kill the tree on the spot, but over time, it is not good for the tree.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

New gardener on lawn for Poolville TX
April 28, 2012 - I have never had the opportunity to have a nice yard until recently when I got married. My husband loves a nice yard and we have worked very hard and put in hours of work. We are learning by trial 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