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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - February 06, 2012

From: Vista, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun and shade. Any suggestions for a low maintenance, drought tolerant ground cover that can handle foot traffic. It is a patio used for entertaining. Thank you

ANSWER:

I'm guessing that DG = Decomposed Granite (I ruled out disgruntled gravel).

One approach is to go to our Native Plant Database and scroll down to the Combination Search Box. Select California under State, Herb under Habit, and Perennial  under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement, Dry under Soil moisture, and 0-1ft under Height. Click the Submit Combination Search Button and you will get a list of 28 native species that meet these criteria. Clicking  on the scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN page that has a description of the plant along with growth requirements and images. Repeat  the search and substitute Grass/grass-like for herb, and you will get a list of 5 grasses that might be used.  These aren’t all suitable for growing between flagstones, but there are some that you might

Herbs
Antennaria parvifolia (Small-leaf pussytoes)

Eriogonum douglasii (Douglas' buckwheat)  

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) 

Grasses

Dasyochloa pulchella (Fluff grass) 

Erioneuron pilosum (Hairy woollygrass)  

Scleropogon brevifolius (Burrograss)

If the DG is level with the tops of the stones, you may want to dig out some of it and replace it with soil to enhance the plant growth.

 

From the Image Gallery


Small-leaf pussytoes
Antennaria parvifolia

Douglas' buckwheat
Eriogonum douglasii

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Fluff grass
Dasyochloa pulchella

Hairy woollygrass
Erioneuron pilosum

Burrograss
Scleropogon brevifolius

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