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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 01, 2010

From: Hillsdale, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a sunny, dry slope in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Looking for plants, native to area, that are quick growing to a height of approximately 6" to 12" for a steep slope comprised of shale in a sunny location.

ANSWER:

You don't give a lot of detail about your project; whether you are hoping to create a "garden" in this area or to simply plant functional plants that will survive and prevent erosion.  I'm assuming that when you say a slope comprised of shale, that you do have some topsoil, and that you are not looking for "rock garden" plants.

Grasses, with their fibrous root systems, are the surest solution to this challenge, but there are perennials (especially those that spread readily) that should do fine in this environment.

Your plant choices will ultimately be limited by what is available in the nurseries in your area but you can begin the selection process by visiting our Plant Database and doing a Combination Search.  First select New York and then sunny and dry conditions and then you can select grasses and herbs (perennials) to generate plant lists.  When you click on the link for the plants that look interesting, you will be taken to the plant information page (which can also take you to a Google search or lead you to possible sources for the plant). If you decide to go bigger, and you have the soil depth, you can also find shrubs that will work.

Here are some we think may work for you:

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

Perennials

These will add some interest and give a bit of a sense of a meadow.  They are all tough.

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

 

From the Image Gallery


Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Black-eyed susan
Rudbeckia hirta

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Clearing up the nativity of so-called Baltimore sedge (Carex senta)
November 12, 2009 - Dear Smarty Pants: Hi, did you ever get more clarity on the Carex senta issue (baltimore sedge)? Whether or not it was a wetland grass? I too am in Maryland and was thinking of planting it for a law...
view the full question and answer

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

Groundcover for Slope in NC under Black Walnut
April 20, 2015 - Please advise on some plants for a difficult to mow 30% slope, near Asheville, NC. We have partial sun, plenty of good rich topsoil, and plenty of rain. The key issue is that it is under and near the ...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mexican feathergrass
October 24, 2015 - I live in Austin. I've recently seen negative comments re: Mexican feathergrass. Is it native to this area? Is it becoming a problem? I have had it in my yard for years and never considered it a ...
view the full question and answer

Grass-planting time in Mt. Pleasant, TX
December 15, 2010 - We are new to Texas and just finished building a house. The builder wants to seed the grass now (December). Will it germinate or will we have to replant in spring?
view the full question and answer

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