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 Trees Questions

Transplanting large trees in Austin, TX
March 30, 2007 - Hello, I'm new to Austin and live in Circle C Subdivision off of Hwy 45 and Spruce Canyon. We would like to plant a couple of trees that will provide shade. I've read your Q&As but would like ad...
view the full question and answer

Possible woodpecker damage in Monterrey Oaks
November 17, 2006 - I live in NW Austin and have two Monterey Oak trees, each about 30 - 45 gal in size. They both were planted approximately 9 months ago. Both trees seem to have some cracking bark on the trunk along w...
view the full question and answer

Problems with tuliptree in North Salem IN
September 02, 2009 - I have a tulip tree and it looks like it is dying. The limbs are starting to turn bright blue. Do I have an insect problem or is it from a lightning strike?
view the full question and answer

Non-native dwarf palm leaves yellowing in Katy TX
March 30, 2013 - 1 month ago we planted dwarf palms, the leaves are turning yellow, does this mean we are over watering them? If so how much water do they require? Is there anything we can give them? We also have a fa...
view the full question and answer

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center