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

Erosion Control in Bartlesville OK
May 10, 2012 - What kind of plants can we use to stop erosion and loss of bank on a creek that is mostly shaded? Is there any free advice/plants for people that are losing land due to water levels rising/dropping?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for area under oaks in Lake Conroe, Texas
October 17, 2010 - I live just off Lake Conroe, and my backyard is more dirt than grass. It is under a number of oak trees, and the dirt is more of a silt than a sand. I need suggestions for a quick growing ground cover...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for morning sun in Pembroke MA
October 07, 2009 - Could you please suggest native groundcover,plants/shrubs/grasses for eastern facing slope which gets morning sun? It is my front yard which slopes down toward driveway so it would be a major focal po...
view the full question and answer

Low native groundcover for Wicksburg/Newton AL
July 29, 2009 - I am laying a rather wide-set flagstone pathway in our back weeds (planning some native grass and wildflowers in the fall on either side of the path). I am looking for some very low native groundcover...
view the full question and answer

Looking for cover
June 18, 2007 - I live iin Schaumburg, IL and have a difficult spot (extreme sun and heat in summer (South Side of house). I'm looking for a very short ground cover - < or + to 6 inchees. Does Arabis hirsuta fit t...
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