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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


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?


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



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