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

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

Leaves wrinkling on Tecoma stans from San Antonio TX
August 16, 2013 - My two year old esperanza (planted in the ground) froze back last winter, came back from the roots & has been doing well all summer. Recently one branch has leaves that are nice & green but very wrin...
view the full question and answer

Small to medium drought-tolerant trees for Southern California
June 01, 2012 - I am looking for drought tolerant trees to line one side of our 70 foot driveway. We live in Southern California. Currently, we have queen palms, but I would like something more native or drought to...
view the full question and answer

Bracket fungus on live oaks
October 04, 2007 - I live in Cedar Park and the house we just bought has 4 native live oaks growing in the front yard. On two of the live oaks there are bracket fungi growing at their base. Each tree just produced two n...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree to provide block for treehouse in Central Texas
April 02, 2010 - I live close to Austin TX and need an evergreen tree to block neighbor's newly constructed, metal roof tree house. It looms over our garden and yard - can you suggest a nice evergreen tree for hot m...
view the full question and answer

Dying Bigelow oaks in Austin
July 30, 2010 - I have several stands of Bigelow Oak (Q.sinuata var. breviloba) in NW Austin mixed with Yaupon and Cedar Elms. Several have died each year for the past 8 years. Two now have brown, dry leaves which is...
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