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Mr. Smarty Plants - Ground cover under live oaks

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Monday - June 18, 2012

From: Leander, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Xeriscapes, Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Ground cover under live oaks
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have some areas under Live Oak trees (maybe 200 sq. ft.)that remain bare, in spite of trying Habiturf. Soil is dry, poor and shallow. Can you suggest a living ground cover that would not require major rework of the soil?

ANSWER:

I have had the same experience as you, except my bare ground is under deciduous oaks, Quercus texana (Nuttall oak).  I am experimenting with several native plants that will survive drought.  I'm having pretty good luck with Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage), and Paspalum setaceum (Thin paspalum).  Some of the other sedges, such as Carex texensis (Texas sedge) and Carex amphibola (Creek sedge) might do well, although they might need slightly more water than Habiturf.  These are all mowable at a height of about four inches. The first four species are common around suburban Central Texas, and I simply transplanted some from other spots in my yard.  I also tried Tridens muticus (Slim tridens), but it seems too coarse for a lawn.  If a taller grass will fit in, try Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), which grows to about two feet in height and does very well in shade.

Images of some of my suggested species are shown below.

 

From the Image Gallery


Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Thin paspalum
Paspalum setaceum

Slim tridens
Tridens muticus

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

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