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Sunday - June 07, 2009

From: Oakton, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Plants to put between stepping stones in Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We are a public school in Northern Virginia and are looking for native plants that could be planted between heavily used stepping stones and could withstand some foot traffic (mostly in a sunny spot, but would love to know good plants for different light conditions for other areas of the school as well, from very sunny to deep shade).


Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that you go to our Recommended Species page and select Virginia from the map or pull-down menu.  This will give you a list of more than 120 native plants that are commercially available for landscaping in Virginia.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH OPTION to limit the list to a particular type of plant; for instance, under General Appearance you might select 'Herb' or 'Shrub' and then select the appropriate choice under Light Requirement and/or Soil Moisture.  This would give you many choices for the different light conditions in the other areas of your school.  For the areas between stepping stones, here are a few recommendations.  If you can keep traffic to a minimum until the plants are well-established, they will have a better chance of withstanding regular traffic.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle frogfruit)

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot)

Sedum glaucophyllum (cliff stonecrop)

Sedum ternatum (woodland stonecrop)

Portulaca oleracea (little hogweed)

Portulaca halimoides (silkcotton purslane)

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) grows very well in the sun and requires little watering once established.  Since it grows only as high as 12 inches, it would perhaps need mowing only once or twice a season. 

Phyla nodiflora

Dichondra carolinensis

Sedum glaucophyllum

Sedum ternatum

Portulaca oleracea

Portulaca halimoides

Bouteloua dactyloides



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