En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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)


Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon glomeratus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Evergreen ground covers and low plants for Dallas area
May 25, 2010 - Would like a list of low growing (24" or less) evergreen plants including ground covers, scrubs, etc-flowering and non-flowering that are hardy and require low maintenance in the Dallas area. So ofte...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a dry slope in PA
May 23, 2013 - My side yard is a slope with rocky (a lot of small serpentine rocks) soil under white and black pine trees. I can grow lots of weeds :-) but would like to plant a low (0-3in) evergreen ground cover th...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Poconos in Pennsylvania
March 09, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am having a problem growing grass. I live in the Pocono mtns of Pa. my soil is not typical for this area. I have very sandy soil, probably poor quality. grass will not grow. I...
view the full question and answer

Need suggestions for groundcover in between flagstones in patio in Sugarland, TX.
July 05, 2011 - We are looking for a ground cover to plant in between our flagstone on our courtyard patio. The courtyard is full sun and we currently have a crushed rock-like substance in between the pieces. I thou...
view the full question and answer

Buffalo grass and other native grass for lawn in Central Texas
March 17, 2008 - Hi, I live in Cedar Park, TX - recently moved to into a newly built house. I wanted to put some native grass (like buffalo) in the back yard. - My back yard has slope (away from house) and front...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center