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Friday - April 24, 2015

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


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


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

Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Carolina ponyfoot
Dichondra carolinensis

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