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

Monday - August 08, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Watering, Trees
Title: Defining drip line on trees from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

When you say that trees should be watered at the "drip line," do you mean that literally? I assume that the drip line means at the outside edge of the leaves or branches. Does that mean that watering closer to the trunk won't help the tree, even if the grass or plants underneath do benefit?

ANSWER:

Sorry, we get so used to using certain catch words, we forget that not everyone speaks the same language. Watering anywhere around a tree during the kind of weather we are having is beneficial. When a tree is small and new, we recommend sticking the hose in the soil around the base and letting it drip slowly until water comes to the surface, at least twice a week. With a mature tree, not only would it be difficult to get that hose in there with all the roots, but there are roots extending far beyond that which need the moisture, too. Using the phrase "drip line" is just a quickie indicator, and not totally accurate. Remember that the roots of a large tree will often extend out a distance at least comparable to the height of the tree, which is usually much farther out than where the edge of the shade from the tree, or drip line, is established. Yes, run the sprinkler under the tree and not under the tree but still over the roots. The only caution we would make is to avoid getting the bark of the tree too wet, as this can invite fungi and diseases.

 

More Trees Questions

Propagating a white cultivar of Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora
September 09, 2016 - I am trying to propagate a white cultivar of the Texas Mountain Laurel. I plan to use bee sticks and pollinate the plant. Are the plants self fruiting or do I need to find another white mountain laure...
view the full question and answer

What grows in Tampa FL
July 01, 2013 - Please let me know what grows in the backyard in Tampa, FL to provide screening and privacy?
view the full question and answer

Is it normal for the bark to fall off an oak tree in Austin, TX
May 02, 2013 - Is it normal for live oak bark to fall off when touched? I am afraid to get near them?
view the full question and answer

Need help with a misshapen Monterey Oak in Austin, TX
March 11, 2010 - In the Fall of 2008, I purchased a very tall Monterey Oak from TreeFolks at the Burger Center Sale. Since the wind was so high, all the tall trees were on the ground, and I guess that is why I did no...
view the full question and answer

Speed of growth on plants from Plant Sale from Austin
April 28, 2012 - Hello, I recently attended the native plant sale and bought several plants for a sunny curbside bed in central Austin. Due to financial constraints I stuck with the 3 inch varieties so I could buy 3 ...
view the full question and answer

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