Rent Shop 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

Friday - July 25, 2008

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Ground covering around cypresses in pool area
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have multiple cypress trees planted along our pool area..they shed way too much..but I'm looking for something to put under and around them over the dirt..do you suggest wood chips or a ground covering..the problem is they shed and its difficult to keep the area clean around them..but I'm tired of just looking at dirt around the bases..what do you suggest??

ANSWER:

Our first choice would probably be shredded bark mulch, which we think is attractive, keeps weeds down and the roots of the plants cool (or warm). However, we do see your problem-if you rake the leaves and other tree debris, it's going to be very difficult to avoid raking up the mulch you just so neatly put down. Were the trees there first or the pool? It just seems like a poor choice to plant trees that are going to cause the need for constant cleanup both in the pool and on the surrrounding area. However, you have the trees, you have the pool, let's see what other possibilities we can come up with.

Dichondra macrantha (Asian ponyfoot) was very popular in southern California in the 1950's and 1960's as a grass substitute for lawns. It is a native of New Zealand and Australia and in some places in the United States it is considered a weed. There are, however, members of the same family that are native to North America and might well serve the purpose here: Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot) and Dichondra argentea (silver ponysfoot). The silver ponysfoot is a particular favorite of ours, and, although it is a native of Texas and other southwestern states, should be able to do well in southern California. This will certainly hold and cover the dirt you are tired of looking at, won't need to be mowed, and maybe won't be too terribly difficult to rake for tree debris. Another possibility, native to California is Festuca californica (California fescue) which is 8 - 12" high, tolerates some shade but is best in full sun. This also does not need to be mowed, and is graceful and attractive. It should withstand raking fairly well. None of these will take a lot of foot traffic, but if you are just looking for something to make the area under and around your cypresses more sightly, they are worth investigating.

If you need a source of native plants, go to our Suppliers section, type the name of your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscaping professionals in your general area.


Dichondra carolinensis

Dichondra argentea

Festuca californica

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover for partly sunny, wet area in Cypress, TX
March 19, 2007 - I am in need of a ground cover to plant in an area close to our entryway. The area is shady to partly sunny, holds water in rainy weather, and has a shrub border. We are in Texas. Any ideas? Thank...
view the full question and answer

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for East Texas
November 07, 2010 - I live in the country of east Texas and wish to grow native ground covers around my house and property. I have no way to control this growth, as I have no fences or borders. I have sandy soil and th...
view the full question and answer

Competition between Horseherb and Chickweed
July 04, 2014 - Ok, sorry I did it wrong the 1st time!? I live in Houston, and I have chickens! I also have mass amounts of Horseherb, and I want to buy some chickweed seeds and plant it for my chickens! My question ...
view the full question and answer

Kinnikinnick for a green roof
July 04, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I live just north of Seattle and want to build a green roof (outdoor kitchen) I'm concerned about the weight of the soil (saturated), drainage etc. am building from scratch and...
view the full question and answer

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