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Mr. Smarty Plants - Use of native grasses as erosion control in Austin, TX

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Tuesday - June 20, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Use of native grasses as erosion control in Austin, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We're in Austin, TX and trying to keep our neighborhood lot as natural as possible; however, our lot is eroding and depositing mud and dirt onto the sidewalk whenever it rains. We're looking for an attractive, natural solution to slow or stop the erosion process. We've added some mulch to the area which seems to help and are considering a barrier of some kind. Thanks

ANSWER:

Grasses are very effective against erosion because of their dense root systems. If your lot is sunny, you might consider putting in Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). It requires very little water and very little mowing. It can be started by seed, by sods, or by plugs. You can find more information about planting buffalo grass in the article "Native Lawns" in our Native Plant Library.

There are several grasses that are more ornamental in appearance that would also be effective. These are:
Gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Sun.
Lindheimer's muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) Sun, part shade.
Inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) Part shade. This one does well in the shade.

Sedges, such as Meadow sedge (Carex perdentata) would also work in sun and part shade.

You might also consider planting one of the small perennial shrubs that are drought tolerant and would add some color, such as:
Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides) Sun.
Zexmenia (Wedelia texana) Sun, part shade.
Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) Sun.

You can find nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Austin area in our National Suppliers Directory.
 

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