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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - April 14, 2005

From: Rochester, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Bare feet-friendly native groundcovers for New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We own land at elevation 1600', near Sherburn, NY. We want to walk barefoot around the tipi area, but don't want to plant grass (mowing grass). What native ground cover would be kind to bare feet and not grow too high?

ANSWER:

For a grass-like groundcover you might consider Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica). it grows 6-12 inches high, spreads readily, and should be available commercially. Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a photo of the Pennsylvania sedge growing in a an oak woodland. "Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape" by John Greenlee has very useful information about using sedges as groundcover for a lawn.

You could also consider ground cover vines such as coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) or Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinque), both of which are available commerically. Still another possibility is Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens) which is often used as a ground cover.

You can find a PDF file to download of Recommended Native Plant Species List for the Northeast on our Regional Fastpacks page with other possible ground cover plants listed. And, to find a list of nurseries and seed companies in New York or the northeast that specialize in native plants, visit our National Suppliers Directory.
 

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