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 - 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


 







 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Replacing grass with native Texas sedges
March 24, 2005 - I have been trying to grow native Texas sedges instead of grass in my back yard for the last two years. Much of it is shaded by a canopy of elms, juniper, and oak. I have put a local organic fertili...
view the full question and answer

Groups promoting Edible Grasses
June 08, 2011 - Is there a group of people who want to study and grow edible grasses? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Native lawn replacement for shady areas in Austin
September 11, 2013 - Our front lawn was totally destroyed this summer during some remodeling construction. I am interested in replacing it with native grasses, but we have several oak trees that keep the area fairly shady...
view the full question and answer

Grass-planting time in Mt. Pleasant, TX
December 15, 2010 - We are new to Texas and just finished building a house. The builder wants to seed the grass now (December). Will it germinate or will we have to replant in spring?
view the full question and answer

Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses from Austin
May 13, 2014 - Is Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses? Will horses eat it? I have a client who has a mini-horse who visits her property on occasion, and I want to ensure that what I plant is both safe for the hors...
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