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
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

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

Drought-resistant ground cover for Massachusetts
July 11, 2012 - Mr Smarty Plants I am looking for drought resistant,low maintenance ground cover for a LEED certified project in Florence MA. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
October 11, 2012 - I am looking for a list of native ground covers and grasses(not lawn grass).
view the full question and answer

Source for Dichondra from Hillsboro TX
November 26, 2012 - Where can I get dichondra and info about it?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Maryland to replace English ivy
September 21, 2009 - What is a suitable ground cover native replacement for english ivy? Native to Maryland.
view the full question and answer

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