En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - June 16, 2009

From: Duluth, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacing grass on steep hill in Georgia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live near Atlanta, Georgia. My yard is a steep hill, which makes mowing VERY challenging. If possible, I would like to remove the grass and plant something hardy that does not require mowing. What plant(s) would be best? Also, when replacing grass, should I turn the soil with a tiller? I'm definitely an inside person, so I know precious little about plants and yard work. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants hates to tell you this, but removing the grass on your steep lawn is going to present you with an immediate NEW problem—erosion!  Grasses with their extensive fibrous root systems are ideal plants to prevent erosion on steep slopes.  Although tilling is one way to get rid of the tall grass, it will leave you very susceptible to erosion uniess you get something else with extensive roots in the ground to stabilize it quickly.  If you really want to get rid of your grass, solarization is a better option.  Native American Seed in Junction, Texas has a very good description of how to do this.  You can read about other Grass Removal Methods from Sonoma County (California) Master Gardeners.

Now for a replacement—have you considered replacing your fast-growing tall grass with a short native grass that needs very little mowing or watering?  Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is a sun-loving grass native to Georgia that has varieties that grow to only 4-inches high.  Another possibility is to replace the grasses with grass-like sedges.  You can read Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape by John Greenlee to learn more about them.  A carefully chosen sedge species has the advantage of having a maximum height of 4 to 10 inches and being evergreen.  Here are two good candidates:  Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge).

The following are low-growing evergreen plants that would serve well as groundcovers if you replace your grass.  You should compare the required growing conditions of each of these to the characteristics of your site.

Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold)

Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny-spurge)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Chimaphila maculata (striped prince's pine)

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)


Bouteloua dactyloides

Carex pensylvanica

Carex texensis

Chrysogonum virginianum

Pachysandra procumbens

Phyla nodiflora

Chimaphila maculata

Mitchella repens

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native grasses for wildlife in Katrina recovery area of Louisiana
June 21, 2009 - I live in La in an area decimated by Katrina and want to establish 11 acres of wildlife friendly native short grasses. It is partly designated wetlands because it floods, but also has long periods wi...
view the full question and answer

Grass for Charleston SC
August 13, 2010 - Hey Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Charleston, SC and am having trouble with my grass. What is the best wear resistant grass to plant in my area and when is the best time to plant it?
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Controlling weeds in Buffalograss in Pflugerville, TX
September 26, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, After a visit to the wildflower center a few years ago, my husband and I decided to do buffalo grass from sod in our new house. We love the way it looks, but I've been neglec...
view the full question and answer

Seed Habiturf on top of existing St. Augustine from Austin
January 26, 2012 - We don't want to rip up an existing St. Augustine lawn (potential HOA problems), but we'd like to go native grasses (like Habiturf?). Is there anything we can just seed on top of our present lawn a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center