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

Tuesday - November 24, 2009

From: Chatham, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Ground cover for New York sloped area
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm looking for native ground covers (vines?) for steep, heavy shale sloped areas as well as a ground cover in gently sloped area, preferably not higher than 6 inches. All that I've found is non-native to this area. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Here are some low-growing woody plants native to your area that would make a good ground cover under the conditions you describe.  I don't, however, know what your amount of sunight is.  You will need to check the "Growing Conditions" given for each species against the conditions at your site.

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Rubus pubescens (dwarf red blackberry) and more information with photos

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Cornus canadensis (bunchberry dogwood)

Empetrum nigrum (black crowberry)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)

Grasses and/or sedges would also work well on slopes and are very effective in controlling erosion since their fibrous root systems hold the soil very well.  Their drawback, however, is that most are taller than 6 inches.  Here are a few of the shorter ones you might consider:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)


Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Rubus pubescens

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Cornus canadensis

Empetrum nigrum

Gaultheria procumbens

Vaccinium angustifolium

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Deschampsia cespitosa

Eragrostis spectabilis

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

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

Native ground cover to replace grass in Florida.
February 04, 2008 - Where can I find a list of ground covers to replace my grass. I live in the south of Ocala Florida.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover Planting in Shiro TX
July 09, 2015 - I have been collecting seeds from White Avens and Texas Sedge to use as ground covers. What is the optimal time to plant these seeds? We have been experiencing heavy rains in our area lately, so I am ...
view the full question and answer

Strong groundcover for Southern California
March 28, 2012 - Need a strong ground cover. Hard time getting anything to grow. Full sun. Prefer some color. Low upkeep. The soil probably isn't great. It is a small hill within a planter.
view the full question and answer

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