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 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 five-fingers
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata

Green and gold
Chrysogonum virginianum

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Inland sea oats as backfrop for pigeon berry
August 20, 2007 - I am thinking of using inland sea oats as a backdrop for pigeon berry (Rivina humilis) in a shady area along my foundation. Will this combination work, or will the sea oats outcompete the pigeon berr...
view the full question and answer

Native prairie grasses for East Texas
September 19, 2013 - What are the best grasses for native east texas prairie grass reestablishment, I have a small acreage I would like to turn into native grass land.
view the full question and answer

Grasses for shady areas
November 24, 2013 - I would like to know which grasses would grow in mostly shady part of the house.
view the full question and answer

Plants for delineating property line
July 18, 2010 - I have a neighbor who does not mow his grass or take care of a strip that runs between my property and his. I would like to plant some inexpensive, low maintenance, shrubs, that would do well in full...
view the full question and answer

Do white-tailed deer consume King Ranch bluestem?
October 25, 2013 - Will white-tail deer in central Texas consume King Ranch bluestem ?
view the full question and answer

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