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Mr. Smarty Plants - Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas

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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 bluestem
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

Turk's cap or turkscap
Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

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