En Español

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 - May 31, 2010

From: Hudson, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a sunny sloped roadside in Ohio
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I am looking for a solution to a slope that cannot be easily mowed. Our yard is flat until you get about 15 feet from the road at which point it angles up to a small 5 foot area next to the road. I would like to find something low maintenance to plant that I could use in this 70'x10' area that can survive the amount of snow that it may get from overflow from the road yet still look nice if looked at from any angle. It does get about about 6 hrs of sun during the day. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

ANSWER:

You mention that the plants have to deal with snow piled on them by a snowplow so I imagine you are dealing with a certain amount of road salt as well.

Because of those conditions I would recommend not using shrubs (structural damage due to the snow load and salt damage, especially to evergreens) at all.

Your best bet are ornamental native grasses and prairie plants.  The grasses are statuesque enough to have the same visual impact as shrubs, are tough enough to withstand roadside conditions, have fibrous root systems to hold the slope and only need to be cut back once a year (late winter). They will also "stand" and look great througout a winter when you don't have too much snow.  The prairie perennials are typically deep rooted and drought tolerant so your planting will need very little attention once it is established.

Planting the perennials in drifts between the grasses will create a very pleasing effect from all views.

Here is a list of some Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers and Grasses that should work for you.  Each plant has a link to a detailed information page on our Native Plant Database. You can find more plants for your garden by doing a Combination Search for Ohio and then selecting the plant type you are looking for (trees, shrubs, etc.) and your soil and light conditions. You can also find more information about Tallgrass Prairie and Savannah ecology (the ecosystem type you will be trying to establish) by doing and internet search.  This is one site you will find informative.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Anemone cylindrica (candle anemone)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Desmodium canadense (showy ticktrefoil)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Solidago juncea (early goldenrod)

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense (skyblue aster)

Verbena stricta (hoary verbena)


Andropogon gerardii

Elymus canadensis

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Asclepias tuberosa

Anemone cylindrica

Campanula rotundifolia

Desmodium canadense

Monarda fistulosa

Rudbeckia hirta

Solidago juncea

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense

Verbena stricta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native grasses and turf grass for VA
February 08, 2012 - I recently moved to Blacksburg, Virginia. I am becoming involved with a church here that recently started a grounds committee. There is some discussion within the group of which varieties of native ...
view the full question and answer

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to control erosion on a hillside in Nashville, TN.
February 28, 2012 - Recently, a rogue contractor scraped all the sod off of my Tennessee hillside. Now the clay soil is exposed and washing away quickly. The hill slope is approximately 30 degrees. In the spring I'd ...
view the full question and answer

Pathway material for Kerrville, TX
May 30, 2009 - I have removed the St Augustine, expanded a perennial bed of mostly natives and created a pathway along the new bed. Can you recommend a plant to use as a pathway? It should require low water, be hea...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for a Shaded Slope in Aliquippa PA
May 07, 2014 - What plants. shrubs or trees can I plant to retard soil erosion on a steep shaded hillside in PA
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center