Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

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 Shrubs Questions

Non-flowering plants in Scottsdale AZ
July 01, 2013 - I have three plants that are supposed to do well in Arizona but mine are not flowering. The yellow bells and orange jubilee I have get full sun, drip watered 3 x a week for 1 1/2 hrs (at 4am) and are...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

Did Mexican fire bush (Hamelia patens) survive winter cold?
May 05, 2010 - I have a Mexican fire bush that I planted last spring and it bloomed beautifully last summer. It browned and we cut it back to the ground. Right now it's showing no signs of life and I'm afraid it m...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs that non-toxic to horses but that they won't eat
October 29, 2011 - I am looking for a low maintenance, low water, green shrub that horses won't eat and will not be toxic to them. I want to hide my neighbors corral and keep down dust on my side. The horses have "l...
view the full question and answer

Perennial summer blooming plant for Livonia, MI
May 22, 2009 - I want to find a plant that I can cut back in the fall, will come back in the spring, flower throughout the summer, be a medium size plant, no taller than 48", about 36" in diameter. It would get f...
view the full question and answer

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