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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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Saturday - March 28, 2009

From: Corona, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Low maintenance ground cover for pool area in Corona CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, I have this slope in my backyard that goes up to the neighbors yard. I'm looking for a low maintenance ground cover type plant that will stop erosion and won't cause a mess for my pool which is only a few feet away from the toe of the slope. What should I use? I was told myporum would do the trick. Would it?

ANSWER:

We were not sure what plant you were referring to, but are hoping you just left out an "o" and that  myoporum laetum is the plant you were thinking of. According to this California Horticultural Invasives Prevention website it is considered highly invasive in California. It is a native of New Zealand, and since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is devoted to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, this is out of our area of expertise. However, we are always interested in discouraging the use of invasive plants, native or not, so if we have the right plant name, we hope you won't use it.

So, may we offer some ground cover suggestions that are native to Southern California? We will try to find something that is not too messy for your pool, but plants will be plants. They drop old leaves so they can be replaced with new ones, they make seeds of some sort, including berries, to reproduce and often attract wildlife, including birds, that can be messy, too. We are going to shamelessly copy a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that addressed precisely the same situation, with the exception of the pool. Follow each plant link and read the description; go down to the bottom of the individual plant page and you will find a Google link for more information on that plant. When you are ready to make your plant selection, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, enter your town and state and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. 

Grasses, with their dense fibrous root systems, are one of the best plants to use for erosion control.  Here are a few suggested grasses for southern California:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Festuca californica (California fescue)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton) and more information

Here are some low-growing shrubs that could be used as groundcovers.  These could be used along with the grasses or instead of the grasses.  Their height is generally 1 to 3 ft.

Symphoricarpos mollis (creeping snowberry) with more information.  This is low-growing shrub that is generally less than 2 feet tall.

Encelia farinosa (brittlebush) with more photos and information

Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern Mojave buckwheat) with more information

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry) with more information


Achnatherum hymenoides

Festuca californica

Koeleria macrantha

Melica imperfecta

Sporobolus airoides

Symphoricarpos mollis

Encelia farinosa

Eriogonum fasciculatum

Mahonia repens

 

 
 

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