Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
1 rating

Friday - April 24, 2015

From: Salado, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Native ground cover for bare ground
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 20 x 40 foot partly sunny area that has only leaves covering the bare ground. I want to replace the leaves with ground cover. Can I mix ground covers like clover, asian jasmine, etc? I would prefer to use only native plants. Also, will I need to cover the area with a quality topsoil before I start planting? Thanks in advance. Jack Robinson

ANSWER:

Certainly you can mix groundcovers but if you want them to be native plants, you don't want to use Trachelospermum asiaticum Asian jasmine.  It is, as its name suggests, a native of Asia (Japan and Korea) and not a North American native.  Most familiar clovers such as Trifolium repens (white clover) and Trifolium pratense (Red clover) are also non-native.

Here are several native groundcovers that will do well in part shade:

Sedges—Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge) are both good choices for shade or part shade.

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) is a low herbaceous plant that grows in sun, part shade or shade and remains evergreen in mild winters.

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) will grow in sun and part shade and tolerates drought and flooding.

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage) grows in sun, part shade or shade and is evergreen.  It grows from one to two feet tall and can be mowed.

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena) grows to only 6 to 12 inches high in sun and part shade.  It has a very long blooming period.

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot) is very low-growing and grows in both sun and shade.  You can see more photos in the Archive of Central Texas Plants.

It shouldn't be necessary to cover the area with topsoil.  The Carex species you can buy in small pots to plant.  It is probably a good idea to include a little compost in the hole for the plant.  If you are sowing seeds it would be a good idea to remove the leaves and loosen the top of the soil to insure good contact with the seeds.  Follow planting directions on the seed packages.

 

From the Image Gallery


Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Horseherb
Calyptocarpus vialis





Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Carolina ponyfoot
Dichondra carolinensis

More Groundcovers Questions

Salt-tolerant groundcover for shade with no water supply
September 11, 2013 - We have a home in Neptune Beach (Jacksonville) Florida (NE Florida). We have a large area outside our ground floor master bedroom that is completely covered (there is a large solid deck above it). ...
view the full question and answer

Dog wallowing in damp area in garden from Great Bend KS
March 20, 2013 - 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 throug...
view the full question and answer

Removing bermudagrass from buffalograss in Smithville TX
May 01, 2013 - I have a lawn created two years ago with buffalo grass sod in Smithville, TX. Recently several areas of bermudagrass have started to flourish in the buffalo grass lawn. Can you recommend a herbicide...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a sandy slope at a weekend cabin in central WI.
June 30, 2009 - I have a cabin in central Wisconsin where the soil is equivalent to a sandy beach. There are some areas that are nearly impossible to mow because of how steep the incline is. Could you recommend som...
view the full question and answer

Fast Growing Ground Cover for Sun in San Antonio
April 02, 2012 - What is the fastest growing ground cover for San Antonio Texas (predominantly sunny)?
view the full question and answer

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