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

Thursday - March 07, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Trees
Title: Disposal of Ashe juniper from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am in western Travis County and we have been clearing our land of some of the Ashe Juniper. When there is not a burn ban, we burn them because there are just too many to shred. I was wondering if it would hurt our "soil" if we scattered the ashes over the land. Or any other suggestions of what to do with the ashes?

ANSWER:

First of all, we are sure you know how very frequent burn bans have been and are going to be in our continuing drought and heat in Central Texas. And, frankly, it would serve no useful purpose. Wood ash is very alkaline and guess what our soils are - alkaline.

Just to reinforce my point, please read this article from Gardens Alive, answering the very same question. And, near the end of that article, note this comment:

"Oh, and if you live in a naturally alkaline area, like some of our Oklahoma and Texas listeners, you shouldn’t add any ash to your lawn or garden. Instead, try using large amounts to kill problem weeds like kudzu and thistle by raising their soil’s pH to plant-deadly levels—horticultural vinegar in reverse!"

We had never heard of that solution before, and don't know that we would recommend it. But we do feel in all our wind, a great deal of that alkaline ash would promptly blow somewere you did NOT want it. And even if you did use that treatment to kill some noxious weeds, you would then be left with soil that was damaged for a long time to come and would probably have difficulty getting anything more attractive or useful to grow there, including our own native wildflowers.

Perhaps you could reconsider shredding. There seem to be many companies around that have that service. The freshly shredded wood chips would not be suitable for use as mulch or a soil additive until they had been thoroughly composted, but for paths and areas you wanted to shade to avoid weeds coming up, they would work very well.

 

More Trees Questions

Effects of patio under large tree
July 17, 2008 - I would like to put in a patio under a fairly large tree. I understand a tree needs some open ground around it for air and water. Can I use flagstone leaving 6-10 inches of space between the stones?...
view the full question and answer

What is the pH of Bald Cypress needles?
February 24, 2010 - What is the pH of Bald Cypress needles?
view the full question and answer

Problem with crapemyrtle shoots in Victoria, TX
May 13, 2009 - I have a problem with crepe myrtle shoots coming up in my flowerbed. I had to remove a large crepe myrtle tree (18" diameter stump) and digging out the stump was not possible. I killed the stump wi...
view the full question and answer

Horse ate bark of cedar elm from Liberty Hill, TX
February 20, 2013 - I have three acres with a rental. Planted a Cedar Elm near the porch. My ex-renters allowed their horse to graze around the house. It ate the bark off of the tree. How can I save this tree?
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of Thuja occidentalis leaves in early Fall in Maryland
September 12, 2006 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I am from Maryland. Please help. I have planted 23 Thuja occidentalis Smaragd in my front yard a few months ago. Height of about 3 feet. Most of the trees have turned golden brown....
view the full question and answer

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