Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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 - July 20, 2005

From: Spring Branch, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils
Title: Smarty Plants on mulch and organic material
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 neighbors' were scraped off during construction, or when trenching for utilities, leaving a bare, white scar of ground up limestone on the surface. As you know, when water is added, it turns hard as the rock it is. I read the article on restoration (Restoration: The basics on how to repair your land by Steve Windhager, Ph.D.) which contains wonderful information, but to step back, before any restoration can begin, we are asking ourselves what do we need to do to this hard surface to prepare it to receive even a tough native? I am a Master Gardener, and my suggestion was to shallowly cultivate it to loosen it up, then add organic matter and mulch. Is this the proper technique to initially prepare this chopped up rock for seeding? Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

You are doing exactly the right thing by adding mulch and organic material to the scraped soil. Loosening the surface and working the added material into the limestone material is very effective, but you can also apply topsoil with mulch on the surface effectively without loosening the surface underneath. Be aware that you need to monitor for unwanted weeds that come in as a part of anything you are putting on your plot.

 

More Soils Questions

What will grow in red clay in Conroe TX?
April 10, 2011 - We just built a new home and the foundation was poured on red clay which is what my flowerbed area is in. Could you please tell me what can be planted that will grow. I am looking for ground cover, fl...
view the full question and answer

Soil improvement near Kerrville, TX
December 11, 2010 - We live in the Kerrville area; the soil is extremely shallow and deficient. The yard consists of mainly native plants, with a concentration of plants for butterflies and birds. What kind of soil and ...
view the full question and answer

Care of Dionaea muscipula (Venus flytrap)
November 30, 2013 - Does the venus flytrap grow better in nitrogen rich soil or in nitrogen poor soil with a diet of insects? Thank you so much for your time!
view the full question and answer

Need Native Cover Crop in Seguin, TX
October 11, 2010 - Is there a native winter cover crop that would control erosion until spring vegetation takes over?
view the full question and answer

Baby mountain laurels are ready to move, in Lockhart Texas
October 19, 2011 - I want to harvest the baby mountain laurel plants which are growing under a large bush. What height would be best for the young plants survival? Please recommend a soil mixture for the pots.
view the full question and answer

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