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
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

Starting over on a lawn in Heath TX
April 02, 2013 - Unless one counts dichondra as grass I have more weeds than grass in my yard.I have hand pulled the weeds and used an organic program without success. The soil is a hard clay typical of North Texas. I...
view the full question and answer

Destruction of Straggler Daisy in Austin
December 18, 2011 - I hate Straggler Daisy. Not to be offensive, but it appears from other posts on this site that you, Mr. Smarty Plants, and many others would like to treat it as a protected species. It is taking over ...
view the full question and answer

Poolside Groundcover Suggestions for Florida
July 18, 2013 - I live in Milton, FL near Pensacola. We just had a pool installed and now want to put groundcover around the perimeter. It will be an area about 70 feet long and 10 feet deep. It will be full sun. We ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.
view the full question and answer

Kinnikinnick for a green roof
July 04, 2012 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I live just north of Seattle and want to build a green roof (outdoor kitchen) I'm concerned about the weight of the soil (saturated), drainage etc. am building from scratch and...
view the full question and answer

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