En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas

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

Monday - September 29, 2008

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a 1/3 acre of drainage easement behind my home. I would like to cover it with wildflowers. It is only wet during or shortly after a rain and otherwise does not have water. I have channelled the water to cut down on the erosion but would like the plants to improve erosion and provide a groundcover much like bluebonnets do naturally in Texas. Also, do I need to prepare the soil by tilling or otherwise?

ANSWER:

First, I suggest that you visit our How to Articles page and read "Meadow Gardens" (under LARGE SCALE WILDFLOWER PLANTING) since that is essentially what you want to create.  You will read in the article that the inclusion of native grasses with the wildflowers is important for several reasons, but one of the main ones is that grasses are excellent plants to prevent erosion.  Their extensive fibrous root sytem is very good at holding soil in place. 

Here are a few grasses that are attractive and native to Central Texas:

Shorter grasses (generally 1 ft. or less)

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (curly-mesquite)

Taller grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

You can find a selection of commercially available recommended native plants for Central Texas by selecting that area from the map on our Recommended Species page. On that list are many possibilities for selections for wildflowers for your space (for instance, Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet), Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel), Castilleja indivisa (entireleaf Indian paintbrush) and Oenothera speciosa (pink evening primrose)Native American Seed in Junction has a variey of wildflower seed mixes available for sale as well as seeds for individual species of wildflowers and native grasses. You can also find other sources for native seeds and plants in our National Suppliers Directory.

Tilling the soil isn't usually necessary unless you have a dense overgrowth of weeds.  In fact, tilling should be avoided if possible since this usually stimulates dormant weed seeds.  The most important thing for success in germinating your seeds is to have the seeds in contact with the soil.  This can usually be achieved by raking the area to expose the soil.  Native American Seed has some very helpful suggestions in Planting Tips and you also should read "Getting Started" on our How to Articles page.  


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri

Bouteloua curtipendula

Eragrostis intermedia

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Lupinus texensis

Gaillardia pulchella

Castilleja indivisa

Oenothera speciosa

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native lawn replacement for shady areas in Austin
September 11, 2013 - Our front lawn was totally destroyed this summer during some remodeling construction. I am interested in replacing it with native grasses, but we have several oak trees that keep the area fairly shady...
view the full question and answer

Growing native grasses in containeers in Illinois
May 16, 2007 - Hi. How well would native grasses grow in container gardens in Illinois? What soil would you suggest? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Can two species of Muhlenbergia be cross-pollinated from Portal AZ
July 17, 2012 - Will Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Big Muhly) cross-pollinate with Muhlenbergia porteri (Bush Muhly)? I am attempting to restore the grasslands on my private property to a pre-1900 state. Bush Muhly was a...
view the full question and answer

Care of buffalo grass after wet season
August 15, 2007 - I'm asking for your advice on what to do with my buffalo grass lawn. With all this rain, I've managed to pull the weeds as they pop up in my front yard, and it looks good, except for a couple of...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Shady Woodland in MA
June 09, 2013 - Hello, I am looking for natives to plant in full shade or part shade. My house is in the mountain woodland area of Mt. Washington, MA. I am looking for grasses, flowers and shrubs. Also I am looking f...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center