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

Competition between Horseherb and Chickweed
July 04, 2014 - Ok, sorry I did it wrong the 1st time!? I live in Houston, and I have chickens! I also have mass amounts of Horseherb, and I want to buy some chickweed seeds and plant it for my chickens! My question ...
view the full question and answer

Growing mosses in the Pacific Northwest
February 05, 2015 - Can you provide information on types of Mosses as well as Microferns in the Northwest Mountain region near Seattle? I assume that Mosses and Microferns are more resilient to foot traffic (i.e.Cush...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover for full sun in North Carolina
April 16, 2013 - I have an area that is in full sun and I need to know the best low growing evergreen that possibly flowers to help cover where a ditch/water drainage pipe is below the planting area.
view the full question and answer

Plants for difficult site in Jacksonville, TX
July 07, 2010 - East Texas (Cherokee County) red clay hillside, hard-packed, difficult to get to, 40' of it slopes 4' down in about 6'! Another 30' of it is flat. Between the hillside and the flat clay area is a...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center