Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Compost and Mulch Questions

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

Pine bark on non-native St. Augustine grass in Kingwood TX
May 12, 2010 - I had two large Pine trees cut down. In the process of cutting the trees down there is a lot of pine bark from the tree on my St Augustine grass. Will this affect the growth of my grass?
view the full question and answer

Removal of previously-planted perennials
July 23, 2008 - HI I JUST MOVED INTO A NEW HOUSE THIS YEAR THE PREVIOUS OWNERS PLANTED A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL PERENNIALS BUT I WANTED TO PLANT OVER ONE OF THE PERENNIALS THAT I REALLY DO NOT CARE FOR. IS THAT POSSIBLE? I...
view the full question and answer

Disposal of Ashe juniper from Austin
March 07, 2013 - I am in western Travis County and we have been clearing our land of some of the Ashe Juniper. When there is not a burn ban, we burn them because there are just too many to shred. I was wondering if ...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted magnolia in Hedron NE
September 19, 2010 - We planted a Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' in our landscape about 2 weeks ago. It is approx 7' tall. My question is should the leaves on it all be turning brown and crisp already or are doing some...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.