Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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
2 ratings

Friday - September 12, 2008

From: Midlothian, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Groundcovers, Shrubs
Title: How to combat weeds growing in mulch
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at the moment, which is ineffective as a weed barrier, & is covered with fast spreading ground cover type weeds. Would plants or gravel be more effective at combating the weeds?

ANSWER:

Do you have any sort of material under the mulch to keep the weeds from growing?  If not, why not try a covering of black plastic and then topping it with your mulch or with gravel.  Weeds will not grow through it and if you cover it with gravel or mulch, you will have an attractive base and won't be able to see the plastic.  You can find rolls of it in the paint section of home supply stores.  You will need to cut holes to fit around the shrubs that will allow water to get to the shrubs' roots.  There are also fabric type rolls called Weed Block that are reported to keep weed growth in contol while allowing air and water circulation for the soil.  However, they have had mixed reviews.

Groundcover plants would be attractive but they aren't going to keep the weeds away completely.  Here are a couple of groundcovers:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)


Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora

 

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Maryland to replace English ivy
September 21, 2009 - What is a suitable ground cover native replacement for english ivy? Native to Maryland.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for wildlife in Virginia
March 01, 2009 - Looking for a good ground cover to replace what we've got growing in front of our condo in Northern Virginia. Something to provide cover for the birds and their fledgelings in the spring and summer, ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for gravesite in Maryland
March 13, 2013 - I know this is very unusual question but here I go. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and I am looking for a low ground cover for my grandparents grave. The soil is very sandy and I am looking...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Critical Area Buffer Zone in Maryland
October 06, 2014 - Help RE: Maryland Critical Area Buffer Zone. Is there a low or no- mow grass native to Maryland that can be used in a Critical Area Buffer Zone. The area is Sunny/Clay. Or can you recommend a grou...
view the full question and answer

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