Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 16, 2008

From: Minford, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grasses for sloped clay hillside in Ohio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have built a new home located on a hillside, our soil has a tremendous amount of clay in it. We have a sloped hillside that flows within 25 feet to the back door. The area is wooded and therefore shady. Should I plant the Kentucky 31/ Fescue grass on this hillside or should I go with something different to keep from erosion problems? Please advise which planting would be most beneficial and what type of plant recommended for our region. Thanks

ANSWER:

Fescue is not a native to North America, but was imported to the United States from Europe in the 1800's. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we specialize in plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. Plants already adapted to an area will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. For general information on Fescue, of which Kentucky 31 is no doubt a named cultivar, see this article by Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist, Texas Cooperative Extension, Tall Fescue.

We would prefer to recommend native grasses for your shaded, clay slope. Their fibrous roots will help prevent erosion. We went to our Recommended Species section, clicked on Ohio on the map, and then used the Narrow Your Search function to indicate grass or grass-like for the Habit, and part shade for Light Requirement. We got a list of six grasses that are all perennial, and all will tolerate clay very well. You can follow the links to our webpage on each grass, which will have propagation information, projected height, etc. For further information on each grass, go to the bottom of the webpage and click on the link to Google on that plant. When you have selected a grass or grasses for your area, you can go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type your town and state into the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your general area, all with contact information. 

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Andropogon gerardii

Bouteloua curtipendula

Elymus canadensis

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Short or mowable plant for walkway
June 03, 2008 - I'd like a short and/or mowable plant to use as a walkway in and around a vegetable garden in upstate NY. I was planning on clover, but I want to use a native plant if possible. The native clovers ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for narrow strip between sidewalk and fence
May 01, 2008 - I have a strip of land about 5 inches wide and 30 feet long -- between the fence and the sidewalk -- that I would like to plant something that would look nice and wouldn't require the weedeater every...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of using weeping love grass on property in Keller, Texas
April 19, 2008 - What do you know about "Weeping Love Grass"? We have heard that it does not require watering (once the roots are established, fertilizing, nor frequent mowing. So we decided to plant it on our 2-a...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping suggestions for small yard in Alexandria, VA
April 20, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are preparing to till up most of our back yard and redo it. I'd like to use native plants, but am open to cultivars of them (as in, a column-shaped Ilex glabra...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental bunch grasses to grow under live oak
June 25, 2007 - I love live oak trees and have one in the back yard that is growing nicely. I don't know if it's the shade or the leaf and acorn droppings that won't allow the grass to grow underneath it. Around...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.