En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Groundcover for area with impact from rain from roof

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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 25, 2010

From: Cambridge, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for area with impact from rain from roof
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

The small garden on the side of my townhouse gets some hard rainfall during every storm. We've found ways of redirecting and using much of the rainfall (gutter and downspout to rain barrel, permeable brick walkway in the hardest hit area), but some rain comes off a roof angle three stories up and splatters dirt out of the garden bed. Can you recommend a ground cover that could handle the strong rainfall and help to retain the soil in this bed? I have planted a Coast Azalea and Dog Hobble there to cover the concrete foundation. Both are beautiful, and doing well so far, but the continuing erosion of the soil around them worries me. The area gets lots of sun in the early spring, then is shaded by a nearby dogwood and other plantings. I'm considering planting European wild ginger (which I have a lot of) to protect the soil, but would prefer to put in native plants. Any suggestions? Thanks!

ANSWER:

This sounds like a real challenge! I'm not sure any plant is going to be able withstand a heavy periodic downfall of water.  You best bet might be to consider adding a layer of attractive gravel or larger stones to the area that receives the impact of the falling water.  The water would penetrate the rocks and still provide moisture for your plants.  If you don't want to use gravel-type rocks, you could consider larger decorative stones that would serve as a splash area to spread the water and keep it from impacting the soil. Here in Texas we might use honeycomb limestone, but such rocks are probably not easily available to you in Massachusetts.  However, they might be available at an aquarium store.   Here are some photos of landscapes using rocks of various sizes/colors/shapes. 

You might be able to use a groundcover in the area if you protect it while it is getting established.  You could build a frame above the plants with a permeable (to light and water) material over it that would break the impact of the falling water until the plants are well-established.  Or, you might plant a groundcover around any rocks that you add.  If you decide to try a groundcover with the rocks or alone, here are some possibilities that are native to Massachusetts:

Asarum canadense (Canadian wildginger) is very similar to Asarum europaeum (European ginger), but is native to North America.

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) is a very low shrub and is evergreen.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) is a low evergreen herb.

Cornus canadensis (bunchberry dogwood) is a low perennial that has attractive flowers in the late spring and summer and red berries in the fall.

Fragaria vesca (woodland strawberry) is a low perennial with edible fruit.

Sedum ternatum (woodland stonecrop) is a perennial low-growing succulent.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Asarum canadense

Gaultheria procumbens

Mitchella repens

Cornus canadensis

Fragaria vesca

Sedum ternatum

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover for a slope in NY
April 04, 2010 - I live in New York State about 60 miles north of NYC. I have a very wide hill in the front of my house that I am just unable to keep up with. I can mow the bottom portion but using a weed trimmer fo...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for primary school in Illinois
January 12, 2010 - I'm looking for a ground cover to plant on primary school grounds. It will need to be able to handle foot traffic. Is there anything that flowers and is a perennial? The area gets full sun and is b...
view the full question and answer

What habitat would my Antennaria solitaria like in Red Bank, TN?
October 26, 2010 - I want to know what habitat my mystery plant will like- sun, shade, dry or moist. I think it is an Antennaria solitaria or Little Pussytoes. I got it at a native plant sale here in Chattanooga. It has...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Orange County, Florida
April 14, 2012 - I live in Central FL (Winter Park)and I have a small, mostly sunny (no trees) backyard next to a large in-ground swimming pool which fills up with the leaves of my neighbor's oak trees. The backyard ...
view the full question and answer

Non-invasive sun ground cover for Atlanta GA
June 29, 2011 - I would like to find a non-invasive ground cover for zone 7 (Atlanta, GA) in full sun. I had a bed of ivy with daylilies on a slight slope. I have pulled up the ivy but want something that is not as i...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center