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Mr. Smarty Plants - Deer-resistant plants for steep hillside erosion control

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Tuesday - June 03, 2008

From: Palo Pinto, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Deer Resistant
Title: Deer-resistant plants for steep hillside erosion control
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, I am looking for advice on native plants to control erosion on a steep hillside in the western cross timbers. This is a shady area under post oaks and cedar elms, in shallow sandy soil mixed with large boulders. Most of the land is 45 degrees or worse. Oh, and the plants must be deer-resistant as it is heavily infested with deer. The primary understory now is smilax and prickly pear.

ANSWER:

Your best bet for controling erosion is grass. The grasses have fibrous root systems that hold the soil very effectively. Additionally, grasses are not a primary food for deer. They will eat grass when it is young and tender, but tend to avoid it after the grass is older unless it is their only choice for food. Here is a list of grasses that are native to Palo Pinto, Texas that will grow in part shade (2-6 hours sun per day) or shade (<2 hours of sun per day).

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass) sun, part shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) sun, part shade

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) part shade, shade

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) part shade

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) sun, part shade, shade

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye) part shade

Tridens albescens (white tridens) sun, part shade. Photo from Texas A&M Uvalde.

You can also look through the other plants that are on our Deer Resistant Species list for possibilites for erosion control plants; however, grasses are going to be the best solution. Use the "Narrow Your Search" option to limit the list to Texas species.

You don't mention whether you are thinking of removing the cactus and greenbriar, but I recommend not removing them until you get some grasses established there—those prickly plants are helping with erosion control.


Poa arachnifera

Schizachyrium scoparium

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua hirsuta

Elymus canadensis

Elymus virginicus


 


 



 

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