Ground cover on rocky and shady hillside

Asked June 17, 2013, 4:45 PM EDT

Is there a ground cover (grass or low, spreading plant) that will grow in shade in rock/caliche? I just terraced two sections (each 12 x 6 ft) under red oaks that I need to plant, preferably xeriscape, so the hillside won't erode and also to protect the tree roots. The hillside is steep enough that I probably cannot add much soil.

Travis County Texas

3 Responses

If you are simply looking to prevent soil erosion, you might try a native grass seed mix. Getting the seeds, or anything else, to get started in heavy, dry soil will be challenging, no matter what you plant. The shade, if it's foo heavy, will also inhibit plant establishment. Make sure that the soil is as moist as possible before you seed the area, and that you have a way to make sure the seed stays in place until it can sprout and begin to make roots. You should scrape lightly (just loosen the soil) and broadcast the seed, then tamp lightly (a tamping tool, that you could get at a home improvement store, would work best) to pack the soil around the seeds.
If the shade is heavy, it will inhibit seedling growth, but you might have better success if you wait until the late winter, when the tree will be bare, to plant seed. Good luck.

Thanks, just the information that I needed about the grass.
Since there is more soil near the rock terracing, what do think of planting monkey grass, texas sedge, sedum, and/or horseherb to hold the soil - it is dappled shade all day.

All but the sedum would do fine in dappled shade. The horseherb might do best, and be the easiest too. Both monkey grass and Texas sedge would work, but the don't creep (they have a clumping growth habit), so you'd need to fully plant the entire area, rather than expecting it to fill in over time. Good luck!