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?


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


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!


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 plants for a bioswale in Baltimore
July 22, 2009 - What native plants would suit a bioswale in an urban part of Baltimore City? The clay soil gets waterlogged and the site has part shade.
view the full question and answer

What flowers will ducks and swans not eat?
January 11, 2009 - I live by ducks and swans. They love eating my flowers. Any suggestions on what flowering plants they won't eat?
view the full question and answer

Need some help with a Buffalo grass planting in Salado, TX
October 23, 2009 - Recently we planted buffalo grass sod in the spring of 2007. During the summer I had a problem with barnyard grass due to a lot of rain. During 2008 I had a problem with nut grass. I had been advise...
view the full question and answer

Plants for Liberty Hill TX in full sun
April 15, 2008 - We recently bought an acre of land in Liberty Hill, TX. We have a large planting area in the front that is devoid of any plant life. I would like to turn this into a semi shaded area with some annua...
view the full question and answer

Turf grass for part-time home from Louisville KY
April 28, 2012 - We have a small yard at a remote location with cistern water, and need a turf grass for a yard, clay soil, which I am willing to amend. It will receive sporadic attention as my husband and I do not l...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center