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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


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


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




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