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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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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

 

 

 

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