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 - November 03, 2012

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Amendments for faster-growing trees from Bulverde TX
July 04, 2010 - What faster growing trees will grow in black gumbo clay that is about 12 inches deep above caliche rock in full sun with a sprinkler system set on 1 inch/week? How many and how much amendments such...
view the full question and answer

Clay hill with erosion problems in Reedsport OR
July 10, 2009 - We have a very steep 35-40' clay hill subject to erosion in the Oregon rainy season. How or what do we do to get some kind of vegetation/grass, etc to grow without washing away? We have had mudslides...
view the full question and answer

Gardening advice for Quebec
April 15, 2011 - I live in Aylmer Quebec 1. I bought some lily bulbs at a Christmas bazaar. When can I plant them and what do I put in the hole with the bulbs? 2. I bought a little potted cedar at COSTCO for a Ch...
view the full question and answer

Removing St. Augustine, replacing with native plants
October 06, 2007 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, always excited to talk to the Green Guru himself. I've recently purchased a house in South Austin and am interested in establishing a small, 500+ sq ft, prairie grass and wi...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping help for Gilmer, TX
September 01, 2008 - We have just moved to the beautiful hot state of Texas from warm California and we need some help! Our roses are dying, we have a patch about 25ft. by 3ft. that gets the rain run off like a little str...
view the full question and answer

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