Groundcover in Texas - Help !!!

sarbMarch 18, 2007


I am new to Texas (originally from the midwest). I am living in the Brazos County in College Station, TX where I am told it is a challenge growing plants in this area.

I am trying to find a groundcover to cover a large area.

Here is my situation:

Link to picture of the area I am working with:

I have put a pool in the back yard and there are two beautiful Post Oak Trees to the right that we want to save. I am told that with proper treatment, this can be done. The problem is that they are very sensitive and that if we put grass under them, the constant watering would kill the trees. So we are considering ground cover for that area. Something that would (once established) not take a lot of water or maintenance to grow.

1. The location is on the Northeast side of the house. It would get morning sun, but in the summer there would be shade created by the two post oaks, so not sure how much sun they would actually receive during the summer months when trees are leafed out.

2. I am told that we have a population of copper head snakes in brazos county, so looking for a ground cover that would NOT be inviting to snakes, something low to the ground??

3. I would prefer something that doesn't die during the winter so that we don't have a large patch of brown over the winter months.

4. I would like something that puts out some kind of flower if possible that would attract butterflies??

Any suggestions you could give me would be so helpful.

Thank you,


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cindra(z5b Ont)

I used to live in Texas and I really miss gardening there. It's been a challenge learning to grow in
a different zone and at times can be overwhelming.

I would go ahead and plant something under the oaks but keep in mind that most of the large roots of oaks run deep, but there will be feeder roots closer to the surface. With the age of these oaks I would recommend that you don't bother the roots anymore than you need to. I would also be very careful about over watering inside of the drip line, this is the area that really needs to be protected from excess water under oak trees.

So it sounds like you need something that can withstand heat and drought. Sounds like a great spot for an alpine garden.

Here's a list that may work. I think that whatever I was planting I would amend each hole as I planted rather than the entire area so as not to disturb to much of the bed. You may get away with adding a couple (not more) inches of sandy loam to help you get started but I would never consider covering up any of the area with plastic weed barrier. That would be a huge no no! IMHO

Creeping Chamomile-Chamaemelum nobile, Double-flowered Chamomile-Chamaemelum nobile 'Flore Pleno'
Cranesbill- I've use these before and they are great under oaks!
Also some Heuchera would work well in that area and the foliage comes in so many different colors.

If you want a simple ground cover that you don't need to water a lot and will spread this area, consider Muehlenbeckia axillaris, I think some people call it a wire vine? To keep it thick, mow it once a year. You could tuck a few bulbs in with it to provide some contrast in the spring and also include some of the fall blooming bulbs. The local wildlife may get the bulbs but you could take precautions against that.

Put some tall things in to add interest. If not plants maybe some yard art or pots on stands with more colorful flowers growing in them.

That's just my 2 cents worth. I'm sure what ever you decide it is going to turn out beautiful! As for the snakes, we use to buy this stuff called snake away and it worked great for us. A powder that smells awful when you put it down and we bought it at the feed store so maybe some feed stores near you would have the product.

Sorry this was so long, I didn't mean to hog up your question.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 6:29PM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)

Welcome to the area! It's a great place to garden and it looks like you have a lovely spot--should be gorgeous when the leaves come out on the trees behind your pool area.

You might want to take a look at trailing purple lantana. It's drought tolerant and has pretty purple flowers in spring and fall. I've had some under a live oak for the past several years where it probably doesn't get quite enough light to be at its best, but it looks like your post oaks are branching high enough that you could use a sun loving plant.

Drawbacks: it does die back some when it gets really cold--but has been root-hardy for me. Also, it might be difficult to clean the oak leaves out of it in the fall/winter...a leaf blower might do it, though.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:10PM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)

And here's more info...and a source that isn't too far from you. I have seen it at the big box stores, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: trailing purple lantana

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:25PM
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jkunkel(zone 7)

Not from texas, but my mother lives in san diego and she grows a lot of Ice plant. It dosen't need a lot of water and gets pretty pink flowers in summer, just an idea. It spreads pretty quickly too.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 3:29PM
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Have you considered moss? I'm looking into it now. It requires shade, moisture, and acidic soil. If it gets dried out (even for entire months), you can just water it and it'll turn green immediately. You don't have to mow it. I'm thinking of covering my back yard with moss, because there's an old oak tree and an old pecan tree that cover the entire yard except for the corner that I have my box garden in. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Contact me

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 1:25PM
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