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

Sunday - March 28, 2010

From: St Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Plants for eroding hillside around garage in St. Paul MN
Answered by: Janice Kvale and Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We live in St Paul, Minnesota. Our garage was built into a shaded hole close to the bottom of a small hill. We need to find plants that can retain soil around the garage but will not have root system eroding into the garage walls or the roof top. Could you please recommend some plants? Thanks in advance!

ANSWER:

From your description, we are getting a picture of a garage built into the hillside so that an aggressive plant would invade the walls or the roof. In addition the topography appears such that the soil may erode away from the garage. If this is an inaccurate picture, you will need to redirect Mr. Smarty Plants. For now, let's look at well behaved, native ground cover type plants and grasses that may be suitable. For variety, you might make this a meadow garden. See our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening for more ideas.

Our first recommendation for hillsides or erosion is always native grasses. With their fibrous root systems, they will grab the soil and hold on, but are not invasive or damaging to structures. We will go to our Native Plant Database, and use the COMBINATION SEARCH function, selecting Minnesota, then "grasses or grass-like plants" under Habit or General Appearance, and "part shade" (2 to 6 hours of sun a day" and "shade" (less than 2 hours of sun) under Light Requirements. In case you want some variety in your landscaping of the area, we will search again using "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants) and "shrubs" under Habit. The low amount of sun will be a limiting factor in finding suitable plants, but we will try to find enough to give you some choices. You can use the same search process to make your own selections. We want to emphasize that these grasses are not lawn-type grasses, to be mowed, but prairie grasses. Some are perennial, some are self-seeding annuals; all can be planted by seeds or plugs. We have checked the USDA Plant Profile on each plant to ensure that it is native to the Ramsey County area and can be successfully grown there. Follow each plant link to our page on that plant to get more information.

Shade Tolerant Grasses and Grass-like Plants for St. Paul:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia glomerata (spiked muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Shade Tolerant Herbaceous Blooming Plants for St. Paul: 

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Erigeron philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane)

Shade Tolerant Shrubs for St. Paul: 

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle)

Galium proliferum (limestone bedstraw)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Columbines for September wedding in CO.
August 14, 2009 - My daughter is planning a September 2010 wedding in Colorado. Is there any way for me to buy Columbines in the spring and keep them cool so that the pots all bloom in September for the wedding? Also,...
view the full question and answer

Nurseries that Sell Perennial Native Plants in Fort Worth,TX
September 29, 2010 - Where can I locate a nursery or nurseries with the best selection of perennial native plants in Fort Worth?
view the full question and answer

Deadwood for Degus
February 01, 2013 - I have a very specific and hopefully easy question. I just brought home some degus (small adorable rodents) and they have a severely restricted list of woods they can chew on safely. The safe trees th...
view the full question and answer

Looking for Vitis californica
September 15, 2009 - I am trying to find two Vitus Californica "Walker Ridge" to plant on a trellis. I live in Santa Cruz, CA and am unable to locate a source for this plant and my local nurseries haven't had any luck ...
view the full question and answer

Source for purchase of native Salvia texana
February 23, 2007 - Good morning, Do you or do you know someone who carries Salvia texana? It has been impossible for me to obtain this beautiful Native Texan. Please respond at your earliest convenience with infor...
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.