En Español

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

Monday - June 03, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils
Title: Asphalt beneath surface of soil in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

About 3-4 inches below the surface of our yard is what appears to be asphalt. It comes out in chunks a few inches across and it's all about 1.5 inches thick. I have no idea what it is; my best guess is that our lot was at one time a parking lot or something before it was developed into a subdivision. Other than just being a pain every time I have to dig a hole, will this cause any problems for my plants by leaching chemicals into the ground or anything like that?

ANSWER:

This is not a happy situation and we were unable to find any actual scientific studies on the question, but we did find a couple of forums. You need to remember that forums are the expression of opinions on the part of whoever writes in, and not necessarily scientific fact. However, here are links to those forums:

Garden Web

Fine Gardening

Our opinion is that it was illegal to leave this material in the soil, and should have been caught in inspections of the property, but we are gardeners, not lawyers. You might try contacting the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office for Tarrant County to see if they have any information. As gardeners, we would not want to plant anything, especially anything edible, in that soil and consider it contaminated.

 

More Soils Questions

Soil mixes for green roofs
November 23, 2008 - We are trying to set up a green roof system on our own. What do you suggest for soil? It seems the soils are proprietary and unavailable to individuals.
view the full question and answer

Erosion at edge of driveway in Abilene TX
August 26, 2011 - My lawn suffered a great loss of grass over the winter and the soil at the edge of the driveway is washing away with watering and the occasional rains that we have. I am trying to get the grass to gr...
view the full question and answer

High water table in Glewood Springs CO
March 03, 2012 - We are considering the purchase of a home in Glenwood Springs, CO (elev. Approximately 5,000 ft) and find it strange that while neighboring properties in the subdivision have beautiful landscaping wit...
view the full question and answer

Limp leaves on Texas purple sage in Magnolia TX
July 22, 2010 - Recently planted Texas purple sage, some of it looks healthy and has new blooms, but a few of the plants have limp leaves and are thin at the bottom. I read the article on cotton root rot, but am not ...
view the full question and answer

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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center