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 Plano, Texas
July 06, 2011 - Looking for perennial seeds, maximum height 6 inches. Basically, a ground cover. Flowering would be nice but not #1 on list. Medium to maximum sun. Don't have the best soil, but fertilizer, sprink...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Massachusetts
March 21, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, We are trying to kill poison ivy in shaded areas bordering our driveway and want to plant something quickly to replace it. There are many tall trees in this area, mainly pi...
view the full question and answer

Pet-friendly plants for ground cover in Bastrop TX
June 21, 2010 - Any pet-friendly plants that can be used for ground-cover in Central Texas?
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen ground cover for San Antonio
August 03, 2011 - Is there a short, evergreen, drought tolerant ground cover which will tolerate light traffic that can be used instead of grass? San Antonio, Texas
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center