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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 27, 2012

From: Lehi, UT
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for rocky slope
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My house has a very steep and very rocky slope. We have no problems with erosion, its just very unnattractive. There is no way to mow it whatsoever, and we live in a planned community so we can't have anything that grows too tall or becomes "unkempt" looking. Also it butts right up to my lawn so I don't want anything too invasive. Is there ANY low growing ground cover that I can grow in a hard to till area that fits the bill or am I stuck with this ugly rock pile until I can afford to dig it all up and start over?

ANSWER:

Here are several plants that should work as a ground cover on your rocky slope.  You might consider using a combination of different plants to make the area more interesting.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) is evergreen and grows less than a foot tall in sun, part shade or shade and in poor rocky soils.

Juniperus communis (Common juniper) can grow as a small tree, but there are varieties that grow less than a foot high and spread as a mat.   It likes full sun and will grow in poor, rocky soils.

Artemisia frigida (Prairie sagewort) grows in poor soil in the sun and makes a good ground cover less than 18 inches high.  Its pollen may be a source of hay fever, however.

Ephedra viridis (Mormon tea) is evergreen and grows in the sun in dry, rocky soils.   Here is more information.

Heuchera parvifolia (Littleleaf alumroot) grows in rocky soils in part shade.

Tiquilia canescens (Woody crinklemat) and here are more photos and information.

 

From the Image Gallery


Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Common juniper
Juniperus communis

Prairie sagewort
Artemisia frigida

Mormon tea
Ephedra viridis

Littleleaf alumroot
Heuchera parvifolia

Woody crinklemat
Tiquilia canescens

More Groundcovers Questions

Growing non-vascular moss as a lawn from Seattle WA
July 27, 2013 - I have lots of moss in my back yard. How can I encourage it to grow over the whole yard?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a sandy slope at a weekend cabin in central WI.
June 30, 2009 - I have a cabin in central Wisconsin where the soil is equivalent to a sandy beach. There are some areas that are nearly impossible to mow because of how steep the incline is. Could you recommend som...
view the full question and answer

Native ground cover for Fort Lauderdale, FL.
November 02, 2010 - I just moved into a duplex with a narrow back yard with dark sandy soil and no irrigation system. I travel and am looking for a hardy ground cover that can take heat, drought and limited sun between 1...
view the full question and answer

Replacing St. Augustine with Horse herb in Austin, TX.
December 12, 2012 - I'm considering replacing my St. Augustine grass with a Horseherb/Straggler Daisy ground cover, but I've heard that it provides a mosquito breeding habitat, especially if you allow dead leaves to de...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
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