Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 30, 2009

From: Crystal Lake, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a sandy slope at a weekend cabin in central WI.
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a cabin in central Wisconsin where the soil is equivalent to a sandy beach. There are some areas that are nearly impossible to mow because of how steep the incline is. Could you recommend some plants (preferably ground cover or low shrubs) that might work. The area ranges from full sun to full shade. Additionally watering constantly is a problem as it is only a weekend home. Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:

Well, you are certainly faced with a challenge.  Although there are plenty of groundcovers and low spreading shrubs that will grow (and thirive) in your conditions, they will all need watering until they are established. It would be advisable to wait until the weather is a bit cooler to plant, if you can't be there to water every few days.

Grasses are ideal for holding even sandy banks as they have fibrous root systems.  If you simply stop mowing, you may find that there are already some attractive native grasses or sedges (Carex) on your slope.  Here are a few more that are suitable:

Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

A combination search of our native plant data base yields over 50 recommended shrubs.  Shrubs that spread with stolons are ideal. Here are a few from the list which would be great at a cabin.

Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) - pictures

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

There are also a couple ferns that would work in a shadier spot:

Polypodium virginianum (rock polypody)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)

 


 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Reducing Allergens in Yards and Gardens
January 31, 2012 - What are some allergen-free native plants to Central Texas that thrive in the soil and can survive in the weather?
view the full question and answer

Identification of red-topped grass blooming in Comal County
May 21, 2013 - I live in Comal County and right now (mid May) there is a beautiful, red topped grass growing along the side of country roads. It is maybe 1 foot tall, and waves in the breeze. Do you know what kind o...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a tall ornamental grass native to Massachusetts.
July 23, 2009 - I am looking for a tall (4-8 ft) ornamental grass, native to Massachusetts/ New England. It needs to be tolerant of moist to wet soil, and preferably colorful. Thanks for your help.
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

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
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.