Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - September 16, 2009

From: Orinda, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcovers for California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you recommend native ground covers for shade area to prevent soil erosion; the area is near an old California Live Oak.

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery, specializing in California native plants with locations in Santa Margarita and Escondido, have lists of native groundcovers arranged according to size—less than a foot high, one-two foot groundcover, and two foot and above groundcover.  I'm assuming that there is a certain amount of shade near the oak but I'm not sure how much there is and I'm not sure what size you are looking for, but here are a few suggestions from that list.  You can read the "Growing Conditions" to see what matches your site.

Arctostaphylos edmundsii (Little Sur manzanita).  Las Pilitas describes several cultivars that are available.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) with several cultivars.

Ceanothus prostratus (prostrate ceanothus)

Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry)

Grindelia stricta (Oregon gumweed)

Clinopodium douglasii [syn. = Satureja douglasii] (yerba buena)

Grasses with their extensive  fibrous root systems are always a good choice for controlling erosion.   Here are a couple of possibilities for shade or part shade:

Festuca californica (California fescue)

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass)

You can see more possibilities for grasses and other plants in our California-Northern Recommended list.

Here are a couple of nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants, Bay Natives in San Francisco and Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside. Las Pilitas, in Escondido and Santa Margarita, is further afield but has a large inventory of and great information about native plants.  You can also visit our National Suppliers Directory to look for other nurseries in your area that might carry the plant. 


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Fragaria vesca

Grindelia stricta

Festuca californica

Melica imperfecta

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Evergreen for sunny, dry area under a maple in Connecticut
October 10, 2015 - I have a sloped, very sunny, dry area under a maple. I was wondering if Sweet Fern would be a likely candidate for this area. I would like it to be evergreen and to be able to survive under mounds of...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for groundcover under Magnolia in Austin
April 09, 2009 - What plants native to the Austin, Tx area will do well underneath a large magnolia tree (instead of the English ivy that is there)?
view the full question and answer

Ecosysystem with pecan at center from Austin
February 21, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I would like to create a native tree guild around a mature pecan. It shares its space with native shrubs and ephemerals but I would like to add a nitrogen fixing plant. I am...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to withstand dog traffic in Michigan
November 02, 2010 - I need a soft ground cover that will grow in sand, and be able to take four big dogs that love to run in the yard. Grass just doesn't make it. Someone suggested that groundcover might work. Thanks...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.