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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native grass for erosion control on Shoal Creek in Austin, TX

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Wednesday - June 22, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native grass for erosion control on Shoal Creek in Austin, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

You have lots of choices for grasses that grow in the sun.  Here are some that are readily available to order from one of our associates, Native American Seed in Junction.

Tall grasses (more than 3 feet):

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Medium grasses (1 to 3 feet):

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem) likes growing in damp soil in full sun.  It should do especialy well on the margins of the creek.

Short grasses (less than 12 inches):

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama)

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss)

Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass)

All of the above will grow from seeds and, although earlier in the year would have been a better time to plant, you should be able to get them to sprout and grow now—providing, of course, that you give them plenty of water.  Native American Seeds has an article, Planting Tips for Native Grasses, that has useful information for getting your grasses established.   And although you aren't trying to establish a lawn, our articles, Native Lawns: Buffalograss and Native Lawns: Multi-species should be helpful, also.  You don't say how steep the slope is that you are trying to stabilize, but if it is very steep you might want to consider using some sort of erosion control mat or blanket called rolled erosion control products (RECPs).  They help stabilize the area until the grass can take over that function.   You sow the seeds under the blanket and they grow up through it.   Sowing the seeds under the blanket also keeps them from washing away in the rain or during the irrigation of the area.  Many of them are made of biodegradable material that eventually decomposes.  Many nurseries carry some form of these.

Here are photographs of the above grasses:


Andropogon gerardii


Sorghastrum nutans


Panicum virgatum


Schizachyrium scoparium


Bouteloua curtipendula


Aristida purpurea


Andropogon glomeratus


Bouteloua gracilis


Bouteloua dactyloides


Hilaria belangeri

 

 

 

 

 

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