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 01, 2012

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Ground cover for high traffic area in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

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 to either be low growing or able to be cut. I haven't had much luck finding native...

ANSWER:

I know of a few native grasses that may satisfy your needs.  There are so-called cool season grasses and warm season grasses.  Your best bets are the former types, which grow best in spring and fall but sometimes become stressed during a hot summer.  Two native grasses are among those described in a useful Penn State web sitePoa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) is probably the best for heavy traffic.  Festuca rubra (Red fescue) is another possibility, but is does not bear foot traffic as well as Kentucky bluegrass. 

The other grasses described in the Penn State web site have been introduced, mainly from Europe.

I can think of  no other native ground covers that would bear the kind of heavy traffic that you envision.  However, if there are nooks and crannies that might be out of the mainstream you should consider certain broadleaf ground covers, such as those described in this web site.

Some of these broadleaf species are pictured below.

 

From the Image Gallery


Allegheny spurge
Pachysandra procumbens

Creeping phlox
Phlox stolonifera

Heartleaf foamflower
Tiarella cordifolia

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Shrubby fivefingers
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata

Green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum

More Groundcovers Questions

Ground cover for a slope in San Antonio TX
July 02, 2013 - Slope growing, no or little irrigation ground cover. The slope is probably greater than 30%. The area is currently a construction road at the base, cut into the hill. To re-establish with a ground cov...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Orange County, California
August 05, 2012 - What ground cover do you suggest for an Orange Co., CA, backyard with a steep slope in 3-4 hours of sun? Needs to grow fast to beat the weeds. Something pretty would be nice! Thanks
view the full question and answer

O.K. to grow grass under a live oak?
November 26, 2014 - Is it a bad idea to plant grass around a mature live oak? We have erosion issues and trying to keep mulch in the beds around the tree groves is a challenge, even with edging. Much of the native dirt...
view the full question and answer

Flowering groundcover for Indiana
May 25, 2009 - I live in southern Indiana and am looking for a nice flowering groundcover that will overcome the grass. It is on a hill that is very hard to mow.
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive chickweed in Collegeville PA
December 31, 2011 - My problem is chickweed. I have found considerable information on how to eliminate the chickweed. My question is after following a suggested elimination process: How and when do I reseed with grass?...
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