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?


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
1 rating

Wednesday - July 25, 2012

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seasonal Tasks, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Using a brush hog on acreage on Bear Creek in Austin, TX.
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Jimmy Mills


We have 8 acres off 1826 situated on Bear Creek. It has open areas with scattered large trees (cedar elm, live oak, white oak). Cedars or junipers only along the the lot lines. We've been told we need to brush hog so as to not mow to closely. How often and when should we mow if we want to maintain the "park like" tree meadow look? How tall or high should we mow?


Mowing is a good suggestion since,  in central Texas, if you're not grazing your pastures and meadows with livestock, they will soon become juniper/mesquite woodlands.  Research done at the Wildflower Center has shown that periodic mowing or controlled burning is an effective management technique for controlling unwanted shrubs and some grasses and forbs.

Since you live nearby, we would highly recommend that you visit the Wildflower Center's Restoration Research Trail and see for yourselves how different management regimens produce different results.  Since many of our mowed areas are studded with exposed boulders, most of our mowing is done with a slightly different type of mower – a flail mower – but the net result is the same.

If your meadow is not rocky and does not have other hard obstructions to deal with, a regular lawnmower may be used to mow if so desired.  If wildflowers are desirable, a mowing just after most of the spring wildflower seeds have ripened in June or July and another mowing in late fall or early winter works well.  Four to six inches is a good mowing height for most meadows.

You might take a look at our How To Article ”Meadow Gardening” for some ideas about how you can enhance your acreage.


More Shrubs Questions

Propagation of poinsettias in water from Houston
September 06, 2013 - Pointsettias - we have a broken branch that is thriving in a jar of water with new leaves and additional small branches. When we plant the stem in dirt and even a muck, the growth starts to wither. ...
view the full question and answer

Tree for on top of sewer lines from San Antonio
March 16, 2013 - I am looking for an evergreen small tree with taproot to plant in a very small front yard near the sidewalk and possibly on top of or nearly on top of sewer lines. Would a Mt. Laurel be the choice? ...
view the full question and answer

Older leaves yellowing on Savannah holly in Dallas
May 01, 2009 - I planted a Savannah Holly in Dallas, TX in the Fall of 2008. It has new growth and some white buds all over it, but some of the older leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. Is this normal?
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for urns at entryway in Midland, Texas
November 16, 2009 - I am looking for plants for large urns at my entry .. prefer something evergreen. The urns are about 3' tall with an opening of 10-12" .. also prefer a plant that is not too bushy or whose roots wi...
view the full question and answer

Enough sun from San Marcos TX
February 22, 2013 - I would like to plant both Lantana urticoides and Salvia farinacea in area that only has morning to 1pm sun..Will this amount of sun be enough?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center