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

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

 

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Need Native Plants for Ditch Stabilization in Texarkana, Arkansas
September 14, 2010 - I live in Texarkana, Arkansas. I have a ditch near the street in my front yard that is approximately 90-100 ft. long. It gets full sun. There is a lot of clay and rocks in the ditch. I need to fin...
view the full question and answer

Clay hill with erosion problems in Reedsport OR
July 10, 2009 - We have a very steep 35-40' clay hill subject to erosion in the Oregon rainy season. How or what do we do to get some kind of vegetation/grass, etc to grow without washing away? We have had mudslides...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover that won't hide snakes from Asheville NC
June 29, 2012 - I have an unusual situation: several bare areas in an otherwise wooded area, which receive partial sun, and are not near water -- it rains here frequently, but the soil can become quite dry at times. ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stem bank erosion in Ponder, Texas
May 07, 2010 - We have a pond with a bridge over the middle in full sun with a steep bank on one side. The bank is difficult to maintain and we need some natural looking low maintenance plants or ground cover to pl...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for a Steep Slope in TN
July 15, 2014 - Hello, I live in Knoxville, TN and have a very steep slope in our backyard. There is a lot of water erosion causing our grass to be covered with red dirt. I would love to try to plant something on thi...
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