Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Wednesday - June 01, 2011

From: New Cumberland, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a slope in WV
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in the northern panhandle of WV. We have a hill side in front of our home and are getting too old to cut it. What would be the best ground cover for it. We want something that looks good and will cut off weeds.It's not the best of soil, and is mostly full sun light. Thank you so much for your help !!!!

ANSWER:

Well, grass is still your best bet, but not turf grass that needs to be cut.  There are no rapidly spreading "ground covers" native to your area that will be dense enough to prevent weeds from growing.  The ground covers people conventionally use for that task (like ivy and periwinkle) are non-native invasive plants which we discourage people fom using.

Native ornamental grasses have fibrous root systems; making them excellent plants for a hillside and adapted to the dry conditions that are usually found on a slope.  It will take a while for them to establish, however, so you may have to pull weeds for a few years.  They do look great, especially when backlight by the late summer sun.

Here are a few to consider:

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

You could also mix in perennial wildflowers to brighten up the planting, and attract birds and butterflies such as:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (Smooth blue aster)

Here are some photos fom our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua curtipendula


Panicum virgatum


Schizachyrium scoparium


Sorghastrum nutans


Asclepias tuberosa


Coreopsis lanceolata


Echinacea purpurea


Monarda fistulosa


Rudbeckia hirta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Mexican feathergrass from Pflugerville, TX
January 23, 2013 - How deep are the roots of Nassella tenuissima? I'm looking for something that could possibly discourage my neighbors' bermuda grass from encroaching into my native plantings.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a lakeside bank in NC
November 07, 2011 - Our association is looking to plant a huge sloped area that runs down to Lake Wylie. We want to plant something that is good for erosion and that does not grow too tall so that we keep our view of th...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Lighthouse Point FL
April 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I am looking for mowable ground cover for part of my back yard. Due to a Mahogany tree, a hammock, surrounding foliage and a fence, there is alot of shade in the area, alon...
view the full question and answer

Encouraging native grasses to flourish
August 23, 2007 - We have been trying to restore the yard around the house with native grasses and forbs for the last two years. The soil is clay and nothing seems to grow. We have distributed 5 truck loads of mulch, p...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.