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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - November 09, 2009

From: Winnsboro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants to stabilize a steep slope in east Texas
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

We have a very steep dirt dam in Winnsboro TX, full sun, and burmuda and rye grasses have not been enough to keep from having some mud sliding. We keep adding clay and reworking but want to preserve the dam and 3 acre pond. What plantings do you suggest for full sun that will help prevent erosion. There are deer in the area.

ANSWER:

It sounds like you have a nice habitat for prairie grasses. Deeply rooted, they hold soil well and deer aren't fond of them. A very informative answer to a previous question from east Texas on grass selection is found here. The warm season grasses suggested in that answer may suit your purposes. 

There are also perennials and shrubs that could serve your purpose. For a site where you are trying to hold soil, choosing plants that spread underground and form dense root masses is a useful technique. If you go to the Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database you can search the Recommended Species list for east Texas, then narrow your search by using the chart on the right side of the page and selecting moist, sun and perennial. The resulting smaller list gives you some likely candidates for planting on your site. It also offers some links to local organizations and suppliers to help you make the most suitable choices and find the plants. Your soil type and the range of seasonal conditions on the dam site will be other variables to consider. If the area borders maintained landscaping, note that some plants spread and colonize even better and faster than you hoped...

Some possible perennial choices are listed below.

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum (showy prairie gentian)

Hibiscus laevis (halberdleaf rosemallow)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Penstemon tenuis (sharpsepal beardtongue)

 


Conoclinium coelestinum

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

Hibiscus laevis

Lobelia cardinalis

Oenothera speciosa

Penstemon tenuis

 

 

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