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

Monday - February 24, 2014

From: Montgomery, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for some kind of ground cover to control erosion on a north facing slope in Montgomery County, Texas. The area gets very little direct sunlight. I need something that will establish quickly and is non toxic to horses. The soil is red clay covered with several inches of sandy loam.

ANSWER:

Grasses and sedges work well for controlling erosion because of their extensive fibrous root systems.  Most grasses, however, tend to do best in full sun.  There are some that are suited for shade.   Here are a few below that do grow in Montgomery County.  A couple of them will do well in shade and the others would work in part shade.  On the species page for each of them be sure to read the GROWING CONDITIONS section to see if other characteristics meet those of your site.

Shade (less than 2 hours of sun per day):

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (Nimblewill)

Partial shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day):

Andropogon ternarius (Splitbeard bluestem)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Andropogon virginicus (Broomsedge bluestem)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Eragrostis intermedia (Plains lovegrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sporobolus airoides (Alkali sacaton)

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

Tripsacum dactyloides (Eastern gamagrass)

Grasses would be the easiest to establish since that can be grown from seeds; but, if you would like some variety other than grasses, here are a few small shrubs that would also work in the shade:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (Turk's cap or turkscap)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

The ASPCA (American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has a Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Horses.  You can search it (use the botanical name).   I did not find any of the plants above on either the "Toxic" list of the "Non-Toxic" list.  There is also a Wikipedia site, "List of plants poisonous to equines" that is arranged by scientific (or botanical name).

Native American Seeds in Junction Texas has most of the grass seeds listed above for sale.

 

From the Image Gallery


Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Cherokee sedge
Carex cherokeensis

Broomsedge
Andropogon virginicus

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Virginia wildrye
Elymus virginicus

Plains lovegrass
Eragrostis intermedia

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Alkali sacaton
Sporobolus airoides

Purpletop tridens
Tridens flavus

Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for a Shaded Slope in Philadelphia
April 17, 2015 - I have a small slope along the North side of my house in a suburb of Philadelphia. A small maple tree grows there but most of it gets no sun at all (a large segment is under the tree). I had the soil ...
view the full question and answer

Competition between peony and bulbs
November 06, 2015 - I am planting 3 herbaceous peony bare roots 3 feet apart from each other. I am told it will take 3 years before I get blooms. In the meantime, can i safely plant springtime flowering bulbs in th...
view the full question and answer

Plants for pool area in Fort Worth
April 20, 2010 - We have a new pool in our backyard, and now also quite a bit of bare land to go with it. Looking for native grass suggestions and also shrubs/trees that I can plant around the pool area for privacy an...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for hill in Saint Mary's County, Maryland
September 18, 2010 - Is there a native grass or grasses I can mow on a hill that faces south and is too large to water in Saint Marys County, Maryland?
view the full question and answer

Native landscaping in Austin
August 24, 2009 - I am planning to convert a pretty large portion (app. 500 sq feet) of my front yard from St. Augustine to an area with native and well-adapted plants. I have solarized the area to kill off grass and ...
view the full question and answer

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