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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - December 10, 2008

From: Iowa City, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: What to do about grass dying under pin oaks in Iowa
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We have 2 pin oaks about 15 years old in our front yard. The grass has started dying out under and around them. What can we do?

ANSWER:

In general, plants need light (for photosynthesis), water (for photosynthesis and other processes), and minerals (which also help in photosynthesis). The grass growing under your pin oaks could be suffering from lack of sunshine, and it is certainly competing with the oaks for water and nutrients. The shade problem isn't easy to solve, but you can increase the amount of water and nutrients that the grass is receiving. Is the die back new, or has it been going on for some time? If it is new, you might try to determine what conditions have changed?

Another possibility could be an infestation of insects or fungus. For help with this problem, I suggest that you contact the Johnson County Extension Office of the Iowa State University Extension.

 

More General Botany Questions

Drawings of Illinois native wildflowers
July 15, 2006 - I am looking for line drawings of Illinois Native Wildflowers to use for educational material for visitors to our new City Park. We plan to have signs throughout the park describing how Native Americ...
view the full question and answer

Official definition of native plants
March 06, 2008 - Does the Wildflower center have an official definition of "native" plants?
view the full question and answer

Endemic plants for the Edwards Plateau
March 23, 2008 - Thanks so much for the info. it will be very helpful with the boys and we really stress "Leave No Trace Behind". The pictures will be enough. Thanks again!!
view the full question and answer

Why do some flowers open during the day and close at night?
April 08, 2009 - My son is doing a science fair project on the California Poppies. We are trying to find the definitive answer on why the flowers open during the day and close at night.
view the full question and answer

Are leaf margins of Chilopsis linearis toothed from Austin
December 22, 2013 - Are the leaf margins of Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow, smooth or toothed? The NPIN descrip says willow-like. Most willows have toothed leaf margins. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

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