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

Sunday - April 04, 2010

From: Moon Twp, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants to hold a slope in Western PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We have a hillside that keeps moving/sliding due to lack of vegetation. What kind of ground covering can we plant to help maintain and stabilize the hillside? If you need to know the climate here, we live in Western Pa.

ANSWER:

You don't mention what the light exposure of your site is, if you are in a rurual or suburban setting and if you are looking for something manicured and restrained or if you would like something a little more wild.

Whenever you choose a native plant, you have the opportunity to restore some of the habitat you have taken by putting your house on the land and to increase biodiversity on your site.

In general, soils on a slope are quick draining so you will be looking for plants that are drought tolerant and have fibrous root systems (like grasses) or spread by underground runners.  The plants you ultimately select will be dependant on what is available in the nurseries where you live, but you can create a wish list by visiting our Native Plant database. If you perform a Combination Search for Pennsylvania on that page selecting dry soil, your light conditions and then plant type (you can do separate searches for grasses, perennials and shrubs) it will generate plant lists for you.  Each plant has a link back to a detailed information page with images.

Here are some plants selected from those lists that should work for you.

Grasses

Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Perennials (Herbs)

Anaphalis margaritacea (western pearly everlasting)  (this can be a vigoros spreader)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort)

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)


Ammophila breviligulata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Panicum virgatum

Anaphalis margaritacea

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca

Tradescantia virginiana

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Comptonia peregrina

Mahonia repens

Rhus aromatica

Rosa carolina

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Buffalograss from Kensington MD
August 03, 2012 - Hi, I'm going to follow-up on the buffalograss question from Charlottesville, since it wasn't answered fully. I'm wondering the same thing: can buffallograss survive the wet conditions of the more ...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of rain, oxblood, and copper lily bulbs
November 30, 2012 - I have Rain Lily, Oxblood Lily, and Copper Lily bulbs out of the ground, that are putting out some green growth. I would like to plant them soon. Is it okay to plant now and in December, or do I hav...
view the full question and answer

Suggested plants for between flagstones in Austin, TX
March 24, 2007 - I would like to plant something between my flagstones on patio. I am taking up the cement mortar and want something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little traffic. ...
view the full question and answer

Narrow strip of groundcover from Sonora TX
April 29, 2013 - I have an area that is right under my patio about 12 feet by 1 ft. I'm looking for something to plant in there. It has afternoon sun, morning shade. I live in SW Texas so it is hot. but would like so...
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for Austin
March 24, 2014 - I am installing a xeriscape landscape in my yard. It will be in full sun and I am looking for an alternative to turf, such as monkey grass. However, I am concerned about the light. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

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