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

Tree for St Paul MN
April 30, 2012 - Need deciduous faster growing shade tree, more taproot style (few/no surface bulging roots--had to cut down large silver maple), few/no fatal pests, tolerant of cold (MN), preferably able to take vari...
view the full question and answer

Difference in native and non-native cherry laurel
October 02, 2014 - I have a backyard volunteer that I have identified as a cherry laurel, but how do I tell the Carolina from the non-native? This is still young (2 years or so), and not flowering, at least not now.
view the full question and answer

Young Mexican White Oak Losing Leaves in Texas
July 13, 2016 - I have a 5 yr old Mexican white oak, 20 ft tall losing its leaves mostly at the top. They turn brown & fall off. It does not lose its leaves in the winter, right?. About 3 ft from the top down is bare...
view the full question and answer

Shoots sprouting around base of liveoak tree
April 18, 2008 - I have a Live Oak that was planted in my yard about 15 years ago. In the last several years, small shoots have been sprouting up around the tree base, are getting more dense and spreading into the gr...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a blue spruce from Pingee Grove IL
August 30, 2012 - Transplant 18" Blue spruce from 5 gal. bucket to ground.
view the full question and answer

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