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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.

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Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Irving, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Native plants for a bioswale in Irving, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, what plants would you recommend for a bioswale in the north Texas (Dallas) area?

ANSWER:

Because some of our clientele might be unfamiliar with the term, we would like to quote part of a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer.

Common swales are typically vegetated with turf grass and are a conveyance tool, basically a grassy stormwater sewer that conveys water as quickly as possible from Point A to Point B. A bioswale differs in that the turf grass is replaced with native prairie vegetation. This will significantly reduce the flow velocity (slow down of the runoff) in the swale’s drainage course. The residence time of the runoff is thus increased, which gives it the time to be stored, filtered, and infiltrated. These processes remove pollutants and suspended solids from runoff.

Since our suggestions are basically for prairie grasses, you might be interested in reading our How-To Article Recreating a Prairie, which has instructions for time of year to be planting, preparing the soil, and caring for the grasses. When you are ready to begin, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, put your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area who can help you select the right plants for your purpose.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex hystericina (bottlebrush sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Andropogon gerardii

Carex blanda

Carex hystericina

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Elymus virginicus

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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