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?


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


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.


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

Surface tree roots hurting grass in Houston
March 21, 2013 - We have 2 mature Arizona Ash trees in our yard (30-40'). One of them is in a sunnier location and has developed an extensive network of surface roots (up to 1 to 1 1/2" Dia.) between the tree and th...
view the full question and answer

Type of clumping bamboo for outdoor planters from Plano TX
March 25, 2014 - What type of clumping bamboo can be grown outdoors in planters in Dallas,TX?
view the full question and answer

Habiturf care from Plano TX
July 03, 2014 - Five weeks ago, we planted a Habiturf lawn in our back yard. The grass looks great and is already about 6 inches. I have two questions to solve before we do the front yard. We have lots of purslane m...
view the full question and answer

Keeping Bermuda out of Native Turfgrass
May 15, 2011 - We live on zip code 78154. Sadly our yard has bermuda grass–we are using solarization to kill the bermuda and plant seeds of buffalograss/bluegrama/curly-mesquite. All the neighbors have bermuda and ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in Virginia
October 24, 2008 - Please help! Looking for landscaping ideas for a very large Steep hill. Features: slope is approximately 45-60 degrees, clay soil mixed with fill dirt, lots of deer, partial sun, seeking minimal maint...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center