En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Replacing grass on steep hill in Georgia

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

Trimming of cordgrass plants
November 20, 2007 - We have planted more than 150 cordgrass plants (spartina bakeri) along the edges of the small pond at our condominium complex to try to prevent any further soil erosion between the buildings and the p...
view the full question and answer

Problems for non-native St. Augustine grass from Little Rock AR
July 18, 2012 - We sodded St. Augustine grass four weeks ago. For the first three weeks we had no rain and temperatures over 100 degrees. We have watered 20 minutes twice a day since installation. There are brown pat...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Shady Woodland in MA
June 09, 2013 - Hello, I am looking for natives to plant in full shade or part shade. My house is in the mountain woodland area of Mt. Washington, MA. I am looking for grasses, flowers and shrubs. Also I am looking f...
view the full question and answer

Frequency of mowing on native grasses
November 17, 2006 - I live on 5 acres in TX Hill Country. I love the native grasses when they are high and blowing, etc. My husband insists on mowing, claiming that by mowing, the grasses grow more rapidly over the dry...
view the full question and answer

Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
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