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 - July 28, 2009

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need recommendations for native plants on a dry sunny hillside in Baltimore Maryland.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Need native recommendations for sunny, dry hillside for ground cover or shrub in Maryland. Mowing the grass is a pain and an energy waster (and I don't want to be tempted to extend some adjacent existing English Ivy). Would like lots of color, if possible. Area is about 40' wide by about 8' tall on an approximate 60 degree slope up. Thanks Mr. Smarty Plants!!

ANSWER:

A hillside with a 60 degree slope would certainly dampen my enthusiasm for mowing, but at the same time it would seem to have great potential for significant erosion. To counter the erosion, you need some plants with fibrous root systems that can stabilize the soil, e.g. grasses.

When I say "grasses", you may be thinking of turf grasses that generally require mowing, but there are ornamental grasses of various sizes that do not need to be mowed to be attractive. This site from the University of Illinois Extension has a lot of information about their selection and use. However, be aware that several of the genera that they mention are non natives (Pennisetum, Miscanthus, Molina, Lagurus, and Briza). Planting a combination of ornamental grasses, sedges, and small flowering plants might be the solution to your problem. This article from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden  tells about the use of sedges in lawns.

Lets start by going to our Native Plant Database and scrolling down to Combination Search box and make these selections; select Maryland under State, Grass/grass-like under Habit, Perennial under Duration, Sun under Light Requirent, and Moist under Soli Moisture. Click the "Submit Combination Search" button and you will get a list of 56 native plants in Maryland that match these characteristics.  Clicking on the name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that contains a description of the plant, its habitat and growing conditions along with images.

For the flowering plants we'll try another approach. Let's go to the RECOMMENDED SPECIES page and select Maryland on the map. This will give you a list of 130 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Maryland. Go to the Narrow Your Search box on the right side of the page and follow the procedure as before, selecting Herb under Habit instead of Grass/grass-like. Clicking the Narrow your Search button will trim your list to 12 . You can alter either list by going back and changing your choices in the categories.

I have a short list of grasses and sedges, and another of herbs that you might consider.

Grasses and Sedges:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)  

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)  

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)  

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)    

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)    

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) 

Herbs:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)  

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)   

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) 

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)  

 Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed) 

 



 

More Erosion Control Questions

Need suggestions for landscaping along a creek in Lenoir, NC
July 25, 2011 - I live in Lenoir, NC and would like to landscape my creek bank that is about 90 feet long and is 200 feet from my house. I thought about evergeen bushes maybe rhododendron; some grasses; a few trees ...
view the full question and answer

How to stabilize a slope under Red Oaks?
March 19, 2013 - A portion our front "yard" (20x40 feet) is a limestone hillside shaded by 3 large spanish oaks. The small amount of grass holding onto the hillside is now gone from the drought, and the hill has er...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping recommendations for site in Dubuque, IA
March 27, 2010 - I need a seed recommendation. Here are the variables: Location: Dubuque, IA (east Central Iowa) Soil type: Sandy to sandy and gravelly. Part is a riverbank facing east. Steep bank then flat to ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for erosion control in Cataula GA
July 10, 2009 - I have several steep embankments on my property that are slowly eroding. What kind of plants (other than grasses, the area is not lawn mower accessible) can I plant to keep this from happening? We hav...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
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.