En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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: Dirt at tree base from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello, I recently bought a home in Austin with a live oak tree which is about eight years old. The previous owner did exactly what all the experts say NOT to do, which was to mound dirt right up against the trunk, to a height of about six or eight inches. My question is this: Since this mound has been there for several years, will I do more harm than good removing the extra dirt at this point? Thanks

ANSWER:

A lot depends on just how deep the soil is around the tree trunk but you are correct that soil heaped around the base of a tree can attract fungal or insect damage. We think a good way to begin would be to start peeling that soil away and see what the trunk looks like. This article from eHow Home has a good discussion on how much is too much, and also recommends a mulch. A shallow layer (no more than 4") of a good quality shredded bark mulch will still permit the gas exchanges of carbon and oxygen necessary to the roots, decompose to assist in amending the soil for better drainage and access to nutrients in the soil, as well as protect the tree roots from heat and cold and help to retain moisture.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Overwatering Texas Mountain Laurel from Rosanky TX
June 06, 2012 - I just read your article in the Statesman about over watering Mt.Laurel. Now I know why my lovely 15 year old tree is dying. We put in new grass this winter and I watered too much. Is there any hop...
view the full question and answer

Source for pecan mulch used at Wildflower Center from Austin
November 11, 2011 - Hello Mr. Smarty Pants I was recently at the Wildflower Center. I saw all the pecan shell mulch and was wondering where you get it from. I noticed awhile back that it is one of the recommended mu...
view the full question and answer

Foundation garden in shade in Durham, NC
April 29, 2009 - I'm trying to replant a 3'x8' garden near the foundation of our house in Durham, NC. This part of the yard gets little, if any, sun and is mostly clay. I've tried adding compost and soil conditi...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow on the Connecticut coast
June 08, 2010 - I live on the coast in Connecticut and have a hard time growing plants here. I live about 1/2 mile from the beach and find that my soil is very rocky. The only plants that have done well in my yard ...
view the full question and answer

Esperanza with rust spots in Corpus Christi, TX
November 30, 2009 - I have a young esperanza plant and the leaves have what looks like rust spots all over them. What is the cause of this and what can I do for it? My other larger and older esperanza does not have this....
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center