En Español

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 Oregon gravel path
August 23, 2013 - I'm looking for a native ground cover to grow in the gravel between flagstones in a path in my backyard. The gravel is 1/4-10 so it is very loose. The path gets midday sun but is shaded by the house ...
view the full question and answer

Want a ground cover instead of St. Augustine to fill in gaps in stone pathway.
November 19, 2012 - I'm considering using Silver Ponyfoot (instead of St. Augustine) to fill in the 6" gaps between my 24"x24" cut limestone blocks footpath and patio. Do they run long that may cover the blocks, whi...
view the full question and answer

Short or mowable plant for walkway
June 03, 2008 - I'd like a short and/or mowable plant to use as a walkway in and around a vegetable garden in upstate NY. I was planning on clover, but I want to use a native plant if possible. The native clovers ...
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for acreage in Denison TX
January 27, 2014 - I have recently moved to Denison TX where we have 5+ acres of true crosstimbers land. I am looking for a native turf grass that will do well in sandy soil and with the water provided by nature. The m...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Lighthouse Point FL
April 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I am looking for mowable ground cover for part of my back yard. Due to a Mahogany tree, a hammock, surrounding foliage and a fence, there is alot of shade in the area, alon...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center