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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 02, 2011

From: Graford, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Low groundcover for Possum Kingdom
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am seeking a very low ground cover (advised so snakes and rats won't take cover), that is drought resistant and grows on a rocky steep incline to the lake in full afternoon/evening sun at Possum Kingdom. I know that is a big order! Any help is greatly appreciated.

ANSWER:

Mr Smarty Plant acknowledges you live in Texas.  There will be snakes and rats; that sort of comes with the territory! The good news is that the snakes will keep the rodent population under control and then move on when their food source is depleted.

Very low ground covers that will fit your needs would be Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) or Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy).  The Frogfruit is expected to grow to 3"-6" and the Straggler daisy to 6"-12" at the maximum.  Both are considered moderate to high drought resistant and will go dormant for hard conditions.

     
Phyla nodiflora
                Calyptocarpus vialis

You might also want to consider some short grasses. Recommended grasses for North Central Texas include Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) and Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (Curly-mesquite).  Both are quite low and drought tolerant. Native American Seed has some short turf grasses, including these, that might meet your requirements. Since your land slopes, you might want to consider keeping the seeds in place with an erosion control blanket.  The Native American Seed Company has these items, and their catalog has good advice on preparing the ground before planting seeds and their care afterwards.

          
Bouteloua dactyloides
          Hilaria belangeri

 

 

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