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

Oak leaf hydrangeas from Edwardsville IL
August 13, 2012 - Hello, I live in West Central Illinois (across the river from St. Louis) and I am considering planting several Oak leaf Hydrangea's in my yard. The location where I would like to plant them is und...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping plant for Austin
September 01, 2011 - Great site! Have gotten lots of ideas. We're about to start construction on a fairly major landscaping project: raised beds/privacy screen. We're at the top of a hill in the Hill Country just wes...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Muhly grass in late summer from Wimberley TX
August 02, 2012 - Can I transplant Muhly grass in July/August?
view the full question and answer

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

Slow development in Shumard Oak from Porter TX
April 02, 2013 - We had two Shumard Oaks Planted in Sept of last year (2012). About a month later, they started browning and dropping their leaves (no color change). Now I noticed on one of the trees the buds have sta...
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