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

Small, flowering, evergreen plants for hillside in Austin.
October 27, 2007 - I have a steep, dry hillside measuring approximately 4 feet high by six feet wide. I want to plant low growing, evergreen, flowering plants across the bed that will flower as long as possible, and thr...
view the full question and answer

Removing Purple Top Tridens out of Mt Pleasant Texas
April 07, 2011 - We would like to know how to kill these Purple Top Triden out of our garden. Thanks, Judy
view the full question and answer

Shady Container Plant for Austin
August 20, 2014 - I am looking for a tall plant/small shrub/ornamental grass for a very large pot that is placed against the north wall of our Austin home. That spot gets some morning sun in the summer, but virtually ...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for a prairie in southeast Texas
September 30, 2013 - We have a small place (about 100 acres) in Colorado County, Texas, on the Colorado River north of the town of Weimar. We are gradually clearing (bulldozing) the woods of cedars. One particular spot ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native St. Augustine grass failing for 5 years in Houston
July 21, 2013 - My townhome in Houston has a mid-size backyard, which receives full sun for much of the day. I've re-sodded with St. Augustine for 5 consecutive summers, but it consistently dies over time (proper fe...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center