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Saturday - November 03, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Trees
Title: Ground cover under trees from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I need ground cover plants that can tolerate leaf litter and grow under oak tree shade.


Not a whole lot of those around. Please read this previous Mr. Smarty question on allelopathy in oaks. Even those oak leaves on the ground have bad effects on other plants trying to grow there. Instead, we are fond of recommending a good quality compost or shredded bark mulch under that tree. It will combine with the oak leaves and gradually decompose to help amend the soil beneath in terms of drainage and access to the nutrients in the soil. It will have to be replaced from time to time, but that is still less expensive and work intensive than constantly replacing plants that will not survive. Also, the mulch, up to 4 inches thick, will provide a non-muddy path and protect the tree roots from heat and cold as well as retain our all-too-scarce moisture in the soil.


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Chlorotic disease in scrub oak from Katy TX
July 04, 2013 - Please tell me how to treat my scrub oak as it has chlorotic disease. Parts of the tree are fine and others have yellow leaves. It has not been injured in any way.
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Tree (evergreen) to grow in area with high water table
March 27, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We live in central Austin, Tarrytown specifically, just blocks from the aptly named Spring Lane. (sometimes we hit water in our back yard within 2 feet of the surface.) We los...
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June 28, 2011 - My possumhaw holly has LOTS of green berries in the spring but they fall off in summer, so that I have only a handful of red berries in the winter. What is going wrong?
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