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 - March 20, 2013

From: Great Bend , KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Groundcovers, Septic Systems
Title: Dog wallowing in damp area in garden from Great Bend KS
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I Have a wet area in my back yard that is close to my house. and off my patio there is a water hydrant,gas meter, electrical for my hot tub, my sprinkler valves and pump all there. My dog digs through the mulch in the summer to cool down; it drives me nuts. I need an idea for a ground cover that will stop his digging plus something that won't take over everything or a root that will grow though my gas line, electrical lines, water pump or valves.

ANSWER:

You apparently have two distinct problems to address.

1. Dog wallowing in damp spot and ruining plants.

2. Multiple utility systems that need protection from roots.

Much as we hate to admit it, plants are not the solution to every problem, not even native plants, which is all Mr. Smarty Plants will recommend. We are sure you don't want to get rid of the dog, or you would have already done so. There are no plants that can resist being dug up and wallowed in on a daily basis. If you could transplant something like a cactus or other succulent (of which there are 18 native to Kansas), they would not like that damp soil as they are all desert plants. And it would have to be large enough at the time of transplant to really discourage the dog, and therefore really tough to transplant. You could try putting in some large shrubs, again, large plants are not easy to transplant, and that would immediately complicate your utility line problem.

Now assuming the dog can find somewhere else in not quite as delicate a situation for the dog's cool down, we would suggest covering the area around the pipes with river rock. Not gravel, because the dog could dig that out and spread it around in a heart beat. The rock would be attractive, allow ventilation of the soil beneath it, and at least minimize weeds. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on using river rock where growing anything is a problem.

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Poconos in Pennsylvania
March 09, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I am having a problem growing grass. I live in the Pocono mtns of Pa. my soil is not typical for this area. I have very sandy soil, probably poor quality. grass will not grow. I...
view the full question and answer

Low groundcover for Possum Kingdom
March 02, 2011 - I am seeking a very low ground cover (advised so snakes and rats won't take cover), that is drought resistant and grows on a rocky steep incline to the lake in full afternoon/evening sun at Possum ...
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

Plants for a mixed border in Houston
February 22, 2010 - I live in Houston and have a flowerbed I'd like to fill with plants that will look good year-round. The back is already lined with 6-foot shrubs so nothing like that. I'd like something with colorf...
view the full question and answer

Splash-proof plants from Oakton VA
October 01, 2012 - Hi Mr Smarty Plants, Re: low, evergreen ground cover, Northern Virginia The bare soil around my freshly painted screen porch splashes up onto the white framing when it rains so I am looking for ...
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