Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Vero Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for bioswale in Vero Beach FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you recommend plantings for bioswales located in Volusia County area of Florida?

ANSWER:

Common swales are typically vegetated with turf grass and are a conveyance tool, basically a grassy stormwater sewer that conveys water as quickly as possible from Point A to Point B. A bioswale differs in that the turf grass is replaced with native prairie vegetation. This will significantly reduce the flow velocity (slow down of the runoff) in the swale’s drainage course. The residence time of the runoff is thus increased, which gives it the time to be stored, filtered, and infiltrated. These processes remove pollutants and suspended solids from runoff.

We found this information on bioswale construction from the USDA, which shows compost tilled into the native soil (clay, in this instance) to facilitate the drainage. The plants we have selected are all perennial, and will grow in moist soils, but can tolerate some drought. These are plants with fibrous roots that will hold in the soil when water is rushing by, help to slow it down, and permit the pollutants in the water to be filtered out. Follow each link to the page on that individual grass to determine how much sun it needs and what soils it does best in. We have checked to make sure each grass is native in and around Volusia County, so the soils are probably all compatible.

Since our suggestions are basically for prairie grasses, you might be interested in reading our How-To Article Recreating a Prairie, which has instructions for time of year to be planting, preparing the soil, planting and caring for the grasses. When you are ready to begin, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, put your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area who can help you select the right plants for your purpose.

Native grasses for a bioswale in Florida:

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Paspalum floridanum (Florida paspalum)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Rhynchospora latifolia (sandswamp whitetop)

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (softstem bulrush)

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Andropogon glomeratus

Andropogon virginicus

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Paspalum floridanum

Panicum virgatum

Rhynchospora latifolia

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Tripsacum dactyloides

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
view the full question and answer

Grass for a Miniature Garden
July 18, 2013 - Please let me know what kind of grass is nice and short and tight for a miniature garden in a wooden box. I want to grow this grass in the box and I also want to know if I need to drill holes in the b...
view the full question and answer

What to do about grass dying under pin oaks in Iowa
December 10, 2008 - We have 2 pin oaks about 15 years old in our front yard. The grass has started dying out under and around them. What can we do?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas
September 29, 2008 - I have a 1/3 acre of drainage easement behind my home. I would like to cover it with wildflowers. It is only wet during or shortly after a rain and otherwise does not have water. I have channelled ...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for a slope from New Carrollton MD
June 27, 2012 - My house (Maryland, near DC) sits at the bottom of a south facing slope. The soil is very heavy clay. The grade is about 1:20 for about 100 feet (with a steeper part at the top). Part of the hill is i...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.