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

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

Area needing soil amendment in San Diego
December 02, 2009 - I have a dirt area in the corner where my fence comes together. The dirt is clay-like and during the winter the area gets very little, if any, sun and during the summer it gets 4-6 hours of sun. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Re-landscaping in Stephenville, TX.
November 17, 2012 - I prefer native plants. We are re-landsacaping, so I need grass, ground cover, vines and flowers to plant in our back yard. We have many trees and the whole yard is shady. A small area might be con...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on partially shaded slope
November 27, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Atlanta, GA. My house is on a hill, and I am beginning to have erosion at my backyard porch (concrete slab, on the corners especially). The soil is mainly red clay, a...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on mulch and organic material
July 20, 2005 - I live near Canyon Lake, just north of San Antonio in a new subdivision. I call on you for advice, as I have attended several classes there and hope you can help. Several areas on our property and nei...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center