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Thursday - October 02, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for drainage ditch in Bastrop
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

A friend in Bastrop has a drainage ditch in front where she'd like to use a groundcover. Normally it's very dry, but when it rains, can have 1-2" of water. Gets mostly sun. I was wondering about straggler daisy. I looked at your Native Plant Base but the dry/drown issue complicates things. Any ideas for groundcovers and/or would straggler daisy work? Many thanks!

ANSWER:

We really don't think that finding a plant or plants that will tolerate being dry and then drowning is necessarily the issue here. In reality, a drainage ditch, especially in this part of Texas, is dry most of the time. What you need is something to hold the soil while water rushes over it, and also capable of resisting being uprooted itself. The principle of a drainage ditch is that it's going to drain. If we ever have a flood severe enough that water is going to be backed up and standing in that drainage ditch for an extended period, we have worse problems than what happens to the groundcover in the ditch. Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) would certainly work as a low, full sun groundcover. Whether its roots would hang on when the water starts to rush through, we can't say, but we're pretty sure it would survive.

Native grasses are another option that will give some year-round presence, attractive on their own, and certainly with fibrous roots that will hold the soil and preserve the plant itself. We are going to list some of our particular favorites, or you might choose to order online special grass mixes from Native American Seed. They provide ways to decide how much you need and instructions. The mixes we thought would best serve your purposes are Drainfield Mix and Prairie Starter Mix. All of the grasses we are listing can be propagated by seed, and Fall is the best time, but they can also be propagated, after you get some started, by division of clumps.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

 

 

 

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