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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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Saturday - May 05, 2012

From: Lake Kiowa, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree well for partially exposed roots from Lake Kiowa TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Medium oak tree along lake has partially exposed roots. Can we make a barrier (what kind?) and fill the roots behind it with topsoil, compost, etc.? Tree and roots are above the waterline. Lake occasionally floods and rain runoff can cause washing, too. Thanks.

ANSWER:

We had no experience with this problem, and didn't have a clue where to start. But when we searched on "tree well" we found this excellent article from West Virginia University Tree Wells by Clifford W. Collier Jr. Apparently, the most important thing is that the roots that are exposed not be suffocated (roots need oxygen, too) by having soil or water over them. The referenced article has a number of illustrations showing how to handle the problem in different ways. Doesn't look easy, but trees are valuable assets, so you will probably want to proceed with some construction.

 

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