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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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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

Planting creeping phlox for a groundcover
June 13, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Southwestern PA (zip code 15065). I have a small slope on my property that is hard for me to mow. I would like to cover it with creeping phlox, which I saw on t...
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Native grass for Splendora, Texas.
January 25, 2008 - We have a newly built house on a two acre lot in Splendora (zip code 77372). We would like to seed (the best choice) for grass. What about centipede or buffalo grass? The soil is a sand with clay 4...
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Looking for native plants for a rain garden in Arlington, TX.
March 12, 2012 - I am looking for native Texas plants that would do well in rain gardens. Do you have any suggestions?
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Plants for 60 degree slope in Mobile, AL
February 09, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants,I live on an eroding 60 foot bluff in USDA Zone 8A, along Mobile Bay (AL). To address erosion problems we are using a gabion-style product called "Green Terramesh," which is ...
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