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Monday - March 09, 2009

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


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


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




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