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

Eliminating wood roaches from hardwood mulch from San Antonio TX
February 05, 2013 - How can I eliminate the numerous wood roaches in my hardwood mulch that I get for free from the city of San Antonio?
view the full question and answer

How to combat weeds growing in mulch
September 12, 2008 - Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at th...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover under pine tree in NY
May 23, 2008 - Hello! I live in upstate NY. I'm trying to find an evergreen ground cover to plant under a pine tree. I believe it's a white spruce (but I'm not postive). I've read conflicting information reg...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover to prevent erosion in Florida
November 04, 2012 - I live on a hill and put in a new side driveway and now I am seeing erosion along the driveway and can see the bottom of my concrete. Grass won't grow because its all shaded. What would be the best g...
view the full question and answer

Plants for wet soils in North Carolina
October 03, 2009 - I'm looking for evergreen plants (shrubs or ground cover)that will tolerate wet conditions for the zone 8 area of North Carolina. The local garden centers here do not stock these types of plants, eve...
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