En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 15, 2008

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Retention of soil on bank in Pittsburgh, PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a steep bank in front of our house in Pittsburgh. We no longer want to mow this bank and wish to plant something that will spread and hold the soil. What do you recommend?


Native grasses and sedges are the best plants to hold that soil. They have fibrous roots that will grip and retain the soil in rain or snow and spread to cover the bank. When they have begun to take hold, you might consider seeding the bank with wildflower seeds, thus creating a wildflower meadow on that bank. Even in the winter, the sedges and grasses will hold their places, and the wildflowers will reseed themselves. Mow no more. See our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening for help in doing this. We will first go to Recommended Species on our website, click on Pennsylvania on the map, and specify grass and grasslike plants. Since we do not know the sun exposure or soil moisture on your bank, perhaps you will want to do this yourself, checking those boxes with the correct information. Finally, when you are ready to begin planting, go to our Suppliers section, type your city and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your general area.


Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Carex bicknellii (Bicknell's sedge)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex emoryi (Emory's sedge)

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bromus kalmii

Elymus canadensis

Sorghastrum nutans

Andropogon virginicus

Carex bicknellii

Carex blanda

Carex emoryi




More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Controlling sedge in vegetable garden in Mississippi
August 03, 2008 - I have a veg. garden surrounded by Purple Sedge. The nut grass has been contained/eliminated by replacing all dirt 1' down. Now the surrounding sedge is beginning to creep inward infesting the gard...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
February 06, 2012 - Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun...
view the full question and answer

Plants for streambank area in Oregon
September 14, 2012 - I am ready to replant a streambank area with native plants..what do you recommend for the Willamette Valley in Oregon? Thanks much!
view the full question and answer

Growing Indian Wild Rice
September 23, 2010 - Could you tell me who has the Canadian rights to wild indian rice grass. It is a drought tolerant grass used in flour production for gluten free products. thanks
view the full question and answer

Native alternatives to St. Augustine for under an Arizona Ash
October 12, 2006 - I live in Mansfield, TX. We have a large Arizona Ash tree in our back yard. No grass will grow under it. We are thinking of laying sod (St. Augustine) there. Is this a good solution and if so, whe...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center