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Mr. Smarty Plants - Groundcover for steep slope under large oak in East Texas

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Sunday - May 17, 2009

From: Longview, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for steep slope under large oak in East Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Longview and have a slope on the west side of my house that is eroding. There is a large 18-20 y-o oak tree that shades half the slope. The slope itself is too steep to safely/easily mow. I would like a flowering ground cover but would happily settle for anything that is easy to grow and will stop the erosion. I have a limited budget.

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for combating erosion because their extensive fibrous roots are very effective in holding the soil.  I know you need something that doesn't need to be mowed, but there are ornamental grasses that you could use that wouldn't require mowing.  You might intersperse them with some of the plants below.  Here are some attractive grasses that should require no mowing to remain attractive:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) grows in part shade and shade.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) grows in part shade and sun.

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) grows in part shade and shade.

Here are several groundcovers that should work well:

Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort) grows in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) and shade (<2 hours of sun per day).

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) grows well in shade and part shade, but will also grow in full sun.

Geum canadense (white avens) grows in part shade and shade.

Glandularia canadensis (rose mock vervain) grows in part shade.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) grows in part shade and shade.

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies) grows best in full sun.

Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort) grows in part shade and shade.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) grows in shade, part shade and full sun.

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) grows in shade and part shade.

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern) grows in shade and part shade.

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) grows in shade, part shade and full sun.

Depending on how steep your slope is and how bad the erosion is, you might want to consider an erosion-control blanket to stabilize the slope so that the grass seeds can get a better chance to germinate and become established. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediment to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. Underneath the matting the roots of the plants growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.  Many plant nurseries carry this erosion control material.


Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Asplenium platyneuron

Calyptocarpus vialis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Geum canadense

Geum canadense

Glandularia canadensis

Mitchella repens

Oenothera speciosa

Packera obovata

Phyla nodiflora

Polystichum acrostichoides

Pteridium aquilinum

Salvia lyrata

 

 

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