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

Wednesday - August 08, 2012

From: Tujunga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for clay soil in Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Southern California and have hard packed clay soil in my yard. Could you recommend ground cover that would be green, low to the ground, require little water and survive in clay? I can't afford heavy watering or would plant a lawn.

ANSWER:

Las Pilitas Nursery (with nurseries in Santa Margarita and Escondido, California) has a page with the title "Some of the California native plants that can be used as less than a foot high ground cover".  Here are some suggestions from that page—you can find other possibilities there as well:

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) is very drought tolerant and Las Pilitas has a Dwarf Coyotebrush (Baccharis pilularis pilularis Pigeon Point) that grows to a foot high.

California Buckwheat plants (there are many) are also a good possibility.   They are very drought tolerant and maintain their flowers for long periods.  In particular, take a look at Eriogonum fasiculatum polifolium (Interior California Buckwheat) and Eriogonum grande rubescens (Red buckwheat) and you can see photos and more information from San Marcos Growers.com.

Salvia sonomensis Farmar-Bower (Golden creeping sage) grows well in clay.

Artemisia californica Canyon Gray (Trailing sagebrush) is very drought tolerant, grows to 1 foot high and tolerates clay soil.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coyotebrush
Baccharis pilularis

Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium

Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium

Creeping sage
Salvia sonomensis

Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

More Drought Tolerant Questions

Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX
January 27, 2014 - Hi. We're starting a school garden in Central Texas, and instead of building a fence along one side, we'd like to plant a hedge. Ideally, it would grow tall enough to deter deer from jumping over, b...
view the full question and answer

Dormancy in Pin Oaks without water in Del Rio, TX
August 02, 2011 - Can Pin Oak trees go dormant without enough water? If so how long can they live that way? Can they be brought back to producing leaves? If yes, then what do I need to do besides giving them water. I d...
view the full question and answer

Water-wise plants for clay soil in southern California
September 26, 2013 - My yard is clay. I'm removing turf to put in water-wise plants and bushes. I need some low growing bushes and medium height bushes that will grow in clay and that will stay green in the summer. Hopef...
view the full question and answer

Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
April 29, 2013 - I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like so...
view the full question and answer

Restoring fire damage in Bastrop TX
November 03, 2011 - I live in the Bastrop State Park area. We were severely affected by the wildfire and as we are trying to rebuild our home, we are being very aware of the particularities of the recovery process. We lo...
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