En Español

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

Replacing a Grass Lawn with Moss
January 02, 2010 - I have a small north facing yard that I would like to change from grass to moss. There is some moss now but still lots of grass. I need to rake a lot of leaves in the fall but want to get away from a ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for high traffic area in Pennsylvania
August 01, 2012 - I am wondering if there is a Pennsylvania native turf like grass/plant that can withstand a lot of foot traffic (public area with lots of children). This will be used in a formal setting so will need ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for burned acreage in Bastrop, Texas
October 31, 2011 - The fire took 2/3 of the trees on my half acre in Bastrop County. It was mostly wild. What do I plant for ground cover? Do I plant native grass seed in fall? I want to keep it native as possible. ...
view the full question and answer

Non-toxic Groundcover for North-Central Texas
April 07, 2011 - I need a creeping ground cover for shade that is non-toxic to dogs. I had planned on Swedish ivy until I read it was toxic. Is Asian jasmine toxic? Or, do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Native Groundcover for High Activity Location in Austin, TX
October 01, 2010 - Howdy! We live in South Austin and have a smallish backyard that we're perennially working on. We have two young, very active dogs that spend a lot of time RUNNING and we never can keep ground cover ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center