The Q&A Archives: Low Maintenance Groundcover

Question: We have a mountain cabin that sits at about 5,000 feet altitude in Northern California at Lake Almanor (near Mt. Lassen). The soil is pretty rocky and we are looking for a ground cover that will thrive in the area with minimal irrigation. There is usually a snow fall of a few feet per year, but sometimes it gets well below freezing without the protection of a snow cover. Summer temperatures are usually temperate, but can reach into the 90's on the hottest days. There is no irrigation system now, and, although we can put in some sort of sprinklers, the cabin stays unattended for up to six weeks or so at a time. What will cover up our dusty and messy dirt?

Answer: The growing conditions sound pretty tough, so you'll need a tough plant. I'd vote for a native groundcover rather than something that needs pampering. How about Kinnikinnick, Creeping Mahonia, Arctostaphylos (Creeping Manzanita), or Philadelphus lewisii (Wild Mock Orange)?

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