En EspaŅol

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
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

Thursday - July 29, 2010

From: N. Reading, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grasses for hillside in N. Reading MA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am seeking a grass for a steep, sunny slope in the NE.

ANSWER:

You are wise to choose a grass or grasses for your steep slope. We will go looking for grasses that need sun and are native to the Middlesex Co. area in northeast Massachusetts. These will not be mowable lawn grasses, you wouldn't want that anyway on a steep slope.

We recommend grasses for controlling erosion because of their extensive fibrous root systems that serve to hold the soil in place.  However, seeding grass is not the whole process.  The seeds need moisture to germinate.  If the moisture comes in the form of rain, it is likely to wash the seeds down the bank  before they have a chance to germinate and take root. An erosion control blanket works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediments to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. You can also insert plants into the soil by cutting through the matting. The roots of the plants that are growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.  Many nurseries carry this erosion control fabric, and can help you with instructions. Go to our National Suppliers Directory, type in the name of your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant seed suppliers, nurseries and consultants in your general area. Many of them can provide you mail ordering of seeds, with help on when and how to plant. 

You probably should not plant seeds for these grasses until early Spring in USDA Hardiness Zone 6a. Grass seeds germinate in the Spring, and trying to get them started either in the heat of summer or just before the cold of Winter sets in are neither of them good ideas. Follow the links below to the page on each grass to learn the growing conditions, projected height and care for that grass.

Grasses for Sun in Middlesex Co., MA: 

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Hierochloe odorata (sweetgrass)

Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Andropogon gerardii

Bromus kalmii

Calamagrostis canadensis

Carex stipata

Elymus canadensis

Hierochloe odorata

Phalaris arundinacea

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native replacement for non-native Bermudagrass in Leander TX
October 16, 2011 - We have Bermuda grass. Large patches have died due to the drought and our yard has been taken over by weeds and St. Augustine grass whose seeds must have blown in. Even when the grass was in great con...
view the full question and answer

Reseed Buffalograss in Early Spring in San Antonio
January 14, 2011 - When is best time to put down Buffalo grass seed in 78260 area. How much dirt should I put over existing sodded buffalo grass, which is now sparse?
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive chickweed in Collegeville PA
December 31, 2011 - My problem is chickweed. I have found considerable information on how to eliminate the chickweed. My question is after following a suggested elimination process: How and when do I reseed with grass?...
view the full question and answer

Replenishing a fallow field in Central Geogia.
February 22, 2010 - I have recently taken a 54 acre field out of cultivation and would like to replenish the soil with native cover plants. There is a slope to a portion of the field that is experiencing some erosion. I...
view the full question and answer

Advice about buffalo grass lawn in NW Arkansas
June 10, 2014 - I am determined to grow a native buffalo grass (bouteloua) lawn in Northwest Arkansas. My question is this: I am considering mixing an annual rye into the bouteloua seed mix for the purpose of quick, ...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center