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?

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 30, 2009

From: Crystal Lake, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a sandy slope at a weekend cabin in central WI.
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

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 some plants (preferably ground cover or low shrubs) that might work. The area ranges from full sun to full shade. Additionally watering constantly is a problem as it is only a weekend home. Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:

Well, you are certainly faced with a challenge.  Although there are plenty of groundcovers and low spreading shrubs that will grow (and thirive) in your conditions, they will all need watering until they are established. It would be advisable to wait until the weather is a bit cooler to plant, if you can't be there to water every few days.

Grasses are ideal for holding even sandy banks as they have fibrous root systems.  If you simply stop mowing, you may find that there are already some attractive native grasses or sedges (Carex) on your slope.  Here are a few more that are suitable:

Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

A combination search of our native plant data base yields over 50 recommended shrubs.  Shrubs that spread with stolons are ideal. Here are a few from the list which would be great at a cabin.

Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) - pictures

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

There are also a couple ferns that would work in a shadier spot:

Polypodium virginianum (rock polypody)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)


Ammophila breviligulata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Schizachyrium scoparium

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ceanothus americanus

Comptonia peregrina

Gaultheria procumbens

Rhus aromatica

Rosa carolina

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Rhus typhina

 


 

 

 

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Road Frontage in NC
March 12, 2015 - I need a fast growing ground cover or perennial flower for 1,000 feet of road frontage about one acre that will choke out weeds. I do not want to do much ground prep or any ground prep. I do not want...
view the full question and answer

Bare feet-friendly native groundcovers for New York
April 14, 2005 - We own land at elevation 1600', near Sherburn, NY. We want to walk barefoot around the tipi area, but don't want to plant grass (mowing grass). What native ground cover would be kind to bare feet ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under Oak Trees in LA.
March 05, 2013 - What type of plants and grass can be planted under and around oak trees
view the full question and answer

Plant ID at Wildflower Center from Waco TX
June 18, 2012 - I was at the Center last weekend and no one was able to answer these two questions: 1. Where can I buy Silver Ponyfoot groundcover? 2. What is the name of the plant with coral blossoms in front of...
view the full question and answer

Non-invasive sun ground cover for Atlanta GA
June 29, 2011 - I would like to find a non-invasive ground cover for zone 7 (Atlanta, GA) in full sun. I had a bed of ivy with daylilies on a slight slope. I have pulled up the ivy but want something that is not as i...
view the full question and answer

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