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Thursday - August 07, 2008

From: Granville, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Plants for a steep lot in Tennessee
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have built a home on a very steep lot (approx 1 1/2 acres)in Northern Central Tenn in Jackson County. The lot is too steep to mow and some of it is too steep to stand on comfortably. My question is to ask you what type vegetation, i.e. grasses, wildflowers, bulbs,etc to plant/sow to prevent erosion and that will NOT have to be mowed - very low maintenance is what I am looking for. Please give me your advice and where I can buy the products you recommend and when to plant - Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. I love lots of color also but will abide by your advice


You don't say what the site is like with regard to sun and moisture so I will have to be rather general and give you some choices that hopefully fit the site. Grasses are really the best plants for erosion control because they have extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place. The following grasses are clumping grasses not turf grasses. They also are very attractive and ornamental. They can be spaced out, look attractive and still control erosion. They do get tall, but if they are spaced they shouldn't need mowing. They look attractive when green and even after they are mature and have browned. In the winter you can cut off the dead stalks and be ready for them to come out green again in the spring.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) sun, part shade, shade and moist to dry soils

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) sun and moist soils

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) sun, part shade and dry soils

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) part shade, shade and moist to dry soils

Sedges also are effective and the ones I've listed are very grass-like, but tend to be shorter than grasses and shouldn't require cutting.

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) sun, part shade, shade and moist to dry soils

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge) part shade and wet to moist soils

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) sun, part shade, shade and moist to dry soils

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) sun, part shade and moist to dry soils

You can add wildflowers to the mix and you can find a list of Tennessee Recommended Species to choose from that are suitable for landscaping and commercially available by visiting our Recommended Species page and choosing Tennessee from the map there.

You can find nurseries that specialize in native plants in your area in our National Suppliers Directory.

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Schizachyrium scoparium

Chasmanthium latifolium

Carex blanda

Carex cherokeensis

Carex pensylvanica

Carex texensis



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