En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Tuesday - April 06, 2010

From: latrobe, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Ground cover for a clay/shale bank in PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We have a 200ft x 30ft bank in front of our house (PA) the soil is made up with clay and shale. what ground cover will grow fast

ANSWER:

You don't include enough details for us to give you very specific recommendations, but we can point you in a directions where you will be able to decide which plants to use.

For instance, you didn't mention whether you are in an urban or suburban setting and how "manicured" you would like the bank to look.  Nor did you mention what the light exposure is or how deep the soil is.  The only thing we can really assume is that the conditions are dry due to runoff.

Were you thinking you would like to create a mass of the same plant type or a mixed planting of shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials?

Your plant choices will be limited by your sun exposure and soil depth and even if you plant drought tolerant plants, you will need to water them until they are established (or longer if you want them to fill in quickly).

You can begin the selection process by visitng our Native Plant database. If you do a Combination Search for Pennsylvania and select dry conditions along with the appropriate light condition, it will generate lists of Shrubs, Perennials (herbs) and grasses that are native to your area.  Each plant in the list is linked to a detailed information page with images.  You will want to select plants that are vigorous and spread by underground runners to fill your arrea quicker.  Take the lists to your local nursery and see what they can recommend and supply.

Here are a few suggestions:

Grasses

Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Perennials (Herbs)

Anaphalis margaritacea (western pearly everlasting)  (this can be a vigoros spreader)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort)

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

 

 

 

 
 

More Groundcovers Questions

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area
July 25, 2013 - Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area. In some of your 2012 responses, you stated that "The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the pla...
view the full question and answer

Would Habiturf or buffalograss work in Charlottesville VA
July 18, 2012 - Hello, I am looking for an alternative to traditional turf grasses. I stumbled upon some information on your site about buffalo grass and LBJWC's 'Habiturf' mix and would like to know if this w...
view the full question and answer

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

Groundcover for Austin yard
March 08, 2012 - My main goal is to cover my yard with a "grass" or groundcover that can handle the Texas heat, predicted long drought and some dog paw traffic (without going dormant/brown in the winter). I don't n...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center