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

Saturday - June 09, 2012

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting
Title: Cardboard or newsprint for mulch from Cedar Park TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What is your opinion on using cardboard and/or newspaper for mulch in flower beds or around trees?

ANSWER:

Actually, this particular member of the Smarty Plants Team has personal experience in that, in Central Texas, but not Austin. We built on a 3/4 acre lot that had been a feed lot and then sat empty for several years. So, there were lush and tough weeds all over the property. We mowed the weeds as we tried to establish a cottage garden, but the weeds were winning. The first thing we tried was just spreading newspaper over the area we wanted to control. Newspapers promptly began to blow all over the neighborhood. Then, we watered the newspaper. Wet newspapers were blowing all over the neighborhood. And the weeds were delighted with the water we had put on them.

Finally, we tried covering the newspaper with shredded hardwood mulch and then watering it, because the mulch would have blown all over the neighborhood if we had not. This helped some, but not for long. Not only did the slightest opening in the mulch/newpaper cause them both to take wings on the wind, but the weeds came up right through it. The only cardboard we had access to was from leftover packing boxes. We found them very reluctant to lie down flat and accept mulching, and water soaked through them reluctantly. We never did get a cottage garden in.

Part of the problem was that the weeds were already so well established and the area was in an exposed position, very subject to wind. However, there are others that have had better experience:

Mother Earth News The Magic of Newspaper Mulch

care2.com Newspaper Mulch: A Safe, Easy Alternative

West Virginia University Recycling Newspaper for Mulch in Home Gardens

 

 

 

More Planting Questions

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Feeding live oak and redbud trees from Fredericksburg TX
October 23, 2012 - Can you please tell me what to feed my live oak and texas redbud trees that survived the drought? We have granite soil.
view the full question and answer

Finding a source of Straggler daisy
October 14, 2015 - I've decided on Straggler daisy but am having trouble finding it. It would be perfect for me. Do I have to wait until next Spring for it to show up? Can it be ordered through a nursery or a landscape...
view the full question and answer

Damaged newly planted Gaura in Austin
April 16, 2010 - Hello yet again! This past Friday we attended the plant sale where we got lots of goodies to start a new bed. The plants were all planted on Sunday. All of them are doing fine, even beginning to...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing vines for the Texas Hill Country
January 17, 2015 - What are the best fast-growing vines for our Hill Country location? The vine will be growing on a stucco wall, so we don't want the vine to grow into the stucco and destroy it. Location has morning ...
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