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?


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 - May 20, 2015

From: Kansas City, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for shady slope in clay soil
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I need to stop erosion on a very shady, sloping side of my house. It is cly soil. We drive our rider mower over it to get to the grassy area in our yard. What perennial ground over might work? Thanks


The following plants are native to Jackson County, Missouri and will grow in full shade.  They would all make very nice groundcovers; however, I doubt that any of them will stand up well to being driven over by your riding mower.  The most likely to survive such treatment are the two sedges.  You might consider making a gravel or mulched path for access for your mower to your grassy area and planting a groundcover (or mixture of groundcover plants) bordering the path.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)


From the Image Gallery

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Sanguinaria canadensis

More Groundcovers Questions

Lawn for a Shady & Wet area in Austin, TX
July 22, 2015 - We have a drainage area that has appeared in our back yard since the neighbors’ homes were built. When we get heavy rains (like this year) all their drainage flows into our back yard and forms a river...
view the full question and answer

Poolside Groundcover Suggestions for Florida
July 18, 2013 - I live in Milton, FL near Pensacola. We just had a pool installed and now want to put groundcover around the perimeter. It will be an area about 70 feet long and 10 feet deep. It will be full sun. We ...
view the full question and answer

Benefits of Habiturf from Austin
August 19, 2013 - I have been reading about Habiturf and my question should be easy to answer. Is this is a grass you would recommend for kid play? Sitting on the lawn, kicking a soccer ball, etc. Any information a...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen groundcover or ornamental grass to plant under tree
November 09, 2007 - What can I plant under my tree as a groundcover? I would like an evergreen groundcover, how about ornamental grasses?
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant groundcover for New Braunfels, TX
September 24, 2011 - Could you recommend some deer resistant ground cover plants for the New Braunfels area? We have tried Ajuga and Katie's Ruellia and they have been eaten.
view the full question and answer

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