Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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 Groundcovers Questions

Groundcovers for Kingsland TX
October 11, 2012 - I am looking for a list of native ground covers and grasses(not lawn grass).
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for Denison TX
January 27, 2014 - I have researched many grasses for sandy soil in Denison,Tx that are easy mantainance. Habiturf has been recommended but is mostly Buffalo grass and is not recommended for sandy soil. What other opt...
view the full question and answer

Strip Groundcover for Austin, TX
February 19, 2015 - I live in a condo in Austin (near N Lamar and North Loop), and am on the HOA board. There is a small strip of land along the back of the units, used mostly for access for maintenance - it ranges from ...
view the full question and answer

Non-vascular moss between flagstones in Mechanicsburg PA
July 11, 2009 - We would like to plant moss between our flagstone. However, the moss will have full sun all day. Can you recommend a moss for Central Pennsylvania near Harrisburg?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for sunny slope in Minnesota
May 24, 2016 - Hi, I'm from Apple Valley, MN. We backyard has large slope areas that get sun through out the day. We have huge weed and buck thorn problem. Can you please suggest a good ground covering plant that gr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.