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

Monday - March 09, 2009

From: Blakeslee, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for Poconos in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 would like to cover the area with a ground cover plant that spreads fast and would not be poisonous to my horses, goat and dogs. I thought about baltic ivy but it turns out to be very poisonous. Do you have any suggestions? I would like something wild looking, low maintenance. Thanks Jennifer

ANSWER:

First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants wouldn't recommend Hedera helix (English or Baltic ivy) since it is not native to North America and is widely considered to be an invasive species.  And, you are right that it could be toxic to your animals.

Here are some candidates for a groundcover in your poor, sandy soil.  You will notice that I included a couple of grasses and a sedge that will grow in sandy soil in Pennsylvania.  You might intersperse them with other groundcovers for variety.  All these have been checked against our favorite toxic plant databases (Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock, Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System, University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants) and do not appear in any of them.

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Carex cephalophora (capitate sedge)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) and more information

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil)

Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort)

Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush)


Bromus kalmii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Gaultheria procumbens

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Artemisia frigida

Artemisia ludoviciana

 

 


 

More Groundcovers Questions

How to combat weeds growing in mulch
September 12, 2008 - Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at th...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Boston MA
March 12, 2013 - We have a small back yard that gets great sun in spring before the leaves are fully back on the tall trees surrounding the perimeter, and then a lot of shade in summer. We have weird patchy grass and ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Sunny Slope in CT
May 11, 2013 - I need a plant to use as groundcover and for erosion control on a sunny slope in southwestern Connecticut. Any suggestions other than juniper?
view the full question and answer

Horseherb for ground cover in Dallas
September 19, 2009 - When considering horseherb as a ground cover for a large area; are there disadvantages to sowing seed versus planting established plants? If not, what time of year is best to sow horseherb?
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
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