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

Ground cover that won't hide snakes from Asheville NC
June 29, 2012 - I have an unusual situation: several bare areas in an otherwise wooded area, which receive partial sun, and are not near water -- it rains here frequently, but the soil can become quite dry at times. ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a slope in San Antonio TX
July 02, 2013 - Slope growing, no or little irrigation ground cover. The slope is probably greater than 30%. The area is currently a construction road at the base, cut into the hill. To re-establish with a ground cov...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Laredo Texas
July 04, 2011 - I am in Laredo, TX and no longer want to waste water on grass. I would like to pull it all out and plant native, drought resistant ground cover - low growing, between 6-12 inches, sun and partial sha...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for vineyard from Round Rock, TX
February 04, 2013 - I will be planting a vineyard in the Hill Country next spring. I am looking to maintain low-growing understory plants across the entire vineyard to maintain soil health, choosing plants that the leaf...
view the full question and answer

Dying non-native St. Augustine grass from Austin
May 02, 2013 - Although we all know St. Augustine grass is not a good thing, I am stuck with it and am trying to save areas that appear to have take-all fungus. I have done much reading online and have tried peat m...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center