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

Saturday - August 28, 2010

From: Burleson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion control plants for Burleson TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live just outside of Fort Worth and I have an area of my yard that is steeply sloped. I would like some type of plant or grass that can be used to control erosion and not need to be cut too often, if possible. I have a 4 year old Bermuda grass lawn adjacent to the area in question.


You did not say what the sun exposure on the slope is, and that can be important in selecting plants for an area. However, we can give you several suggestions and by following the plant links to the individual pages on those plants, you will find out how much sun they need, moisture, growing conditions and so forth.

Native grasses, adapted to your climate and rainfall, are always the best choice for erosion control. They have long fibrous roots that will grab the soil and hold it. These are not lawn grasses, that are mowed every week, but prairie grasses, which can be cut down to about 6" every Spring.

We will go to our Recommended Species section, select North Central Texas from the map, and then select on "grass and grass-like plants" under General Appearance. We will check with the USDA  Plant Profiles in each grass we select to make sure it grows in Tarrant and Johnson Counties, so the climate, soils and rainfall should be acceptable for those grasses. Native American Seed has an excellent article on Planting Tips for Native Grasses. You should also check out their catalog for grass mixes that might work in your situation, such as Thunder Turf (for sun), Blackland Prairie Mix (also full sun) or Shade-Friendly Grass Mixes. Mixes tend to be more satisfactory because of the diversity, allowing the area to nearly always have some plants that are attractive. 

You will notice that the article on native grasses we referred you to recommends planting grass seed in the Spring, because that is when the seeds germinate anyway. Depending on how steep your slope is, you may need to use an erosion control blanket. If you sprinkle grass seed on a hillside in the Spring, the first rain is going to wash it all down to the bottom of the slope, possibly on someone else's property, who isn't thrilled with that. There are a number of brands and types of these blankets that should be available at large home improvement and garden stores, with instructions for their use.

Grasses for erosion control in Burleson TX:

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

From the Native Plant Image Gallery:

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Poa arachnifera

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans





More Erosion Control Questions

Need suggestions for native grasses to stabilize hillside Lago Vista, TX.
May 20, 2012 - I was hoping for some advice. We live on a hillside near Lake Travis. 10-12 years ago I removed all cedar trees. There is approximately 1-2 acrees of steep land between our residence and the lake. ...
view the full question and answer

Need to Stabilize River Bank in Kentucky
December 20, 2011 - My home borders the Ohio River. I have lost a great deal of soil to the river. I am looking for plants with tight root systems that are water tolerant to protect my shoreline. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in southern Maryland
September 03, 2009 - Would you recommend a plant that would act as erosion control for woodlands in Southern Maryland? The soil has a high clay content with a mature hardwoods population.The current erosion is significant...
view the full question and answer

Raised beds over lateral lines in Solgohachia AR
January 02, 2010 - I would like to build raised flower beds over my lateral lines. They would be planted with strawberries and perennials. Will this cause any problems with the absorption into the ground or not lettin...
view the full question and answer

Native grass for erosion control on Shoal Creek in Austin, TX
June 22, 2011 - What is the best grass seed for erosion control in Austin, TX - Shoal Creek goes through my back yard and I need to seed some areas and it gets lots of sun.
view the full question and answer

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