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

Groundcover for Lighthouse Point FL
April 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I am looking for mowable ground cover for part of my back yard. Due to a Mahogany tree, a hammock, surrounding foliage and a fence, there is alot of shade in the area, alon...
view the full question and answer

Strong groundcover for Southern California
March 28, 2012 - Need a strong ground cover. Hard time getting anything to grow. Full sun. Prefer some color. Low upkeep. The soil probably isn't great. It is a small hill within a planter.
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers to replace meadow grasses
September 08, 2008 - Are there any groundcovers that are tolerant to local conditions between Bastrop and Elgin and hardy enough to takeover meadow grasses? I have a couple of acres that was a meadow before I moved here e...
view the full question and answer

Pros and cons of Hydrocotyl bonariensis as lawn replacement
March 22, 2008 - Want to convert lawn TO dollar weed! My Garland TX yard has become so shady over the years that I have a hard time with grass. A few years ago I noticed dollar weed in the grass which seemed to cre...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for south-facing yard in Paris, TX
June 09, 2008 - We are moving to Paris, Tx. Our front yard faces south with 2 large sycamores shading it. Grass has a hard time growing here. I'd like to plant groundcover. Think it's sandy loam. Do you have a...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center