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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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Monday - April 18, 2011

From: Huntington, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a sandy slope in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I can really use your help. I have a steep very, very sandy slope I need to plant to stop the erosion. It gets sun from 9:00 to 2:00. I plan on adding an irrigation system in the area. Planting is going to be a real challenge. Please help identify plants that will work under these conditions. Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:

You do have your work cut out for you.  Even though you are planning to install an irrigation system, you will have very rapid drainage resulting in dry conditions (not to mention a potentially huge water bill) so your best bet is to plant drought tolerant grasses whose fibrous root systems will hold the slope and the moisture.  There are also a number of wildflowers (perennials) and shrubs native to your area that will not only survive, but even thrive in your conditions.

You can generate lists of those plants by visiting our Native Plant Database and performing a Combination Search.  Select: New York/the plant type (grasses, herbaceous plants, shrubs for three different lists)/dry conditions/part shade.  You can narrow the search further by choosing different bloom times and colors.  The plant names on the lists are linked to information pages that will give you more detail about each plant as well as photos. Then all you have to do is go shopping!

Here are some recommendations of plants we think will do well in your situation:

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

 Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Perennials

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Centaurea americana (American basket-flower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Liatris aspera var. intermedia (Intermediate rough gayfeather)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (Narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod)

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweet fern)

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (Coralberry)

You should be able to create an attractive mixed planting which will be quite tolerant of your conditions once established, and will offer wildlife habitat benefits as well.

Here are some photos from our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua curtipendula


Panicum virgatum


Schizachyrium scoparium


Sorghastrum nutans


Aquilegia canadensis


Centaurea americana


Coreopsis lanceolata


Echinacea purpurea


Liatris aspera var. intermedia


Monarda fistulosa


Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca


Rudbeckia hirta


Solidago canadensis


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi


Ceanothus americanus


Comptonia peregrina


Physocarpus opulifolius


Rhus aromatica

 


Symphoricarpos orbiculatus


 







 

 

 

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