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

Flower friends for roses in Tyler Texas
June 24, 2011 - I have planted some double red Knockout roses and am looking for plants to go with them to add blue, white, pink and yellow hues. I am interested in planting something that will act as a ground cover ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
March 26, 2012 - My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of...
view the full question and answer

Ground covers to enrich soil over winter in Austin
September 03, 2006 - I am about to have a baby so will not be working my vegetable garden from about now (September) through the winter or spring. Is there something (a grass, maybe?) that I can plant now that will benefi...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Southern California clay slope
April 02, 2012 - I have a 30 ft. high by 96 ft. long slope with clay soil slope that I want to plant a low height ground cover. Any recommendations on what ground cover possibilities to use.
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Massachusetts
March 21, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We are trying to kill poison ivy in shaded areas bordering our driveway and want to plant something quickly to replace it. There are many tall trees in this area, mainly pi...
view the full question and answer

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