En Español

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

Tuesday - July 15, 2008

From: Hemphill, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcovers for steep slope in East Texas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I HAVE A LAKE LOT IN EAST TEXAS ON TOLEDO BEND RESERVOIR IN HEMPHILL TEXAS. THE LAKE LOT IS BEAUTIFUL BUT VERY STEEP. IN SOME SPOTS IT IS ENTIRELY TOO STEEP TO MOW. IT WAS COMPLETELY GROWN UP WHEN WE PURCHASED AND WE HAVE WEED-EATED AND ROUND-UPED TILL WE ARE BLUE IN THE FACE. WE HAVE SEVERAL LARGE PINE TRESS THAT KEEP THE STEEP SLOPE SHADED MOST OF THE DAY. I AM ASKING MR. SMARTY-PANTS WHICH GROUND COVER SHOULD WE USE. MONDO GRASS OR ASIAN JASMINE. OR CAN YOU GIVE US ANOTHER IDEA FOR A FAST GROWING GROUND COVER?

ANSWER:

Actually, none of the above. Both mondo grass (native to Japan) and Asian jasmine (native of Asia, where else) are non-natives to North America. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are dedicated to the use, protection and promotion of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. Natives are better for the environment because they are adapted to the conditions in which they grow-soil, rain, amount of fertilizer needed, etc. And, quite frankly, almost anything "fast-growing" can quickly become invasive. Think of kudzu; non-native and fast-growing. You don't want your beautiful lake place to be known as the originator of the next kudzu, do you? As for the Round-up, we recommend neither for nor against herbicides, but you may very well have been spraying native plants that would thrive there very well. And have you considered what drift from that spray may be doing to your pine trees?

Is it altogether necessary to mow? You move to a country place to get away from the tasks of town. Unless the grasses already growing there (if you've left any alive) are obstructing your view, it's hard to see what harm they're doing. If it's that steep, you can't very well sit out there nor can children play. So, if you are not going to mow, and want to plant something on that slope, native grasses and wildflowers can be planted there just as easily as mondo grass or jasmine. We want to suggest a meadow garden, and refer you to our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening. It is not a fast process, but one that develops and matures over time. And it will certainly add to the beauty of your property.

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover under Spruces from West Chester PA
December 06, 2012 - Trying to get a native groundcover (or any grass/wildflower/fern) planting established under a small stand of spruces. Established stand (30+ years old), so lots of needles on ground. Just about tot...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistant Groundcover for lower Michigan
June 24, 2012 - What ground cover is deer resistant for a sunny location in lower Michigan?
view the full question and answer

Plants to put between stepping stones in Virginia
June 07, 2009 - We are a public school in Northern Virginia and are looking for native plants that could be planted between heavily used stepping stones and could withstand some foot traffic (mostly in a sunny spot, ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a mixed border in Houston
February 22, 2010 - I live in Houston and have a flowerbed I'd like to fill with plants that will look good year-round. The back is already lined with 6-foot shrubs so nothing like that. I'd like something with colorf...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a slope in NY
April 04, 2010 - I live in New York State about 60 miles north of NYC. I have a very wide hill in the front of my house that I am just unable to keep up with. I can mow the bottom portion but using a weed trimmer fo...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center