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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - November 08, 2011

From: San Pedro, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Lists, Groundcovers
Title: Dense groundcover for full sun on the California coast.
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Can you recommend a very dense ground cover that serves as a lawn (in full sun on the coast, pref. drought resistant)? Many thanks in advance.


Las Pilitas Nursery (located in Escondido and Santa Margarita, California) has a page of recommendations for "One to two foot California native plants that can be used as a groundcovers."  Here are some from that list, as well as from other sources, that are native to Los Angeles County or adjacent areas:

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) normally grows 4 to 8 feet high; however, Las Pilitas has a dwarf cultivar,  Baccharis pilularis var. pilularis 'Pigeon Point', that grows only 1 foot high.

Another dwarf coyotebrush cultivar, 'Twin Peaks No. 2', is described by the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Epilobium canum ssp. canum (Hummingbird trumpet) listed in Las Pilitas by its synonym, Zauschneria californica ssp. mexicana.  It can be mowed to keep it at 6 inches high and it will have red flowers to attract hummingbirds in summer.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) grows in Los Angeles County.  

Artemisia californica (Coastal sagebrush).  Las Pilitas has a cultivar, 'Canyon Grey' that stays about 1 foot high.

Calystegia macrostegia (Island false bindweed) is a vine that makes a fine groundcover, according to Theodore Payne Foundation.

Fragaria chiloensis (Beach strawberry) has the advantage of producing delicious fruit.  The cultivar 'Aulon' is described by Theodore Payne Foundation.

Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern mojave buckwheat).  Theodore Payne Foundation describes a lower-growing cultivar, 'Bruce Dickinson'.


From the Image Gallery

Baccharis pilularis

Hummingbird trumpet
Epilobium canum ssp. canum

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

Island false bindweed
Calystegia macrostegia

Beach strawberry
Fragaria chiloensis

Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium

More Groundcovers Questions

Reducing Allergens in Yards and Gardens
January 31, 2012 - What are some allergen-free native plants to Central Texas that thrive in the soil and can survive in the weather?
view the full question and answer

South Austin Groundcovers for Oak Shade
March 29, 2013 - Hi! I live in S. Austin now but used to work at the Wildflower Center! My backyard is shady with several oak mots. Do you have any suggestions as to what if any ground cover will grow in all that sha...
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

Where to find Horseherb seed
August 02, 2015 - I would like to purchase some Horseherb seeds. Can you tell me where I can do that? Either locally or on line. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Boston MA
March 12, 2013 - We have a small back yard that gets great sun in spring before the leaves are fully back on the tall trees surrounding the perimeter, and then a lot of shade in summer. We have weird patchy grass and ...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center