En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 15, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Environmentally friendly native erosion control plants for arid hillside in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I'm moving into Agave, the new east side development in Austin. It's currently an arid hill with almost no trees and a steep (by gardening standards) hill. As a community, we'd love to find an inexpensive and environmentally friendly option for the west-ward facing hillside. I'm not sure how to seed a hillside - the rain will wash seeds away. But there is probably too much land to buy plants for. Any recommendations?

ANSWER:

Grasses are your best bet to start with. If there are no trees, there is bound to be lots of sunshine. One turf grass that does well with lots of sun and little water is Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). After you have it started, it will serve to keep erosion from occurring and you can then seed it with various wild flowers. It requires little or no mowing and very little water. Here is a quote from Sally and Andy Wasowski's Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region:

"One August Andy saw a 'Prairie' buffalograss lawn in Plano that had been watered just twice all year. It was green. The neighbor's bermudagrass lawn next door had been watered 33 times and looked stressed."

Other grasses (more ornamental) to consider are Prairie or Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis) and/or Virginia wild rye (Elymus virginicus), Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and the state grass of Texas, Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula). Native American Seeds in Junction has all these grasses for sale as seeds and some as plugs (roots). They also have a Blackland Prairie Mix which includes grasses and wildflowers that are appropriate for your area.

There are several articles in our Native Plant Library that should be helpful for your project: "Native Lawns", "Wildflower Meadow Gardening", and "Large Scale Wildflower Planting". Since you are worried about the slope for planting seeds, you might like to read the article "How to Make Seed Balls". If you make and use the seed balls, you could include both grass seeds and wildflower seeds in them. Here are a few suggestions for wildflowers that should do well with the grasses:

Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) bloom period—April through June
Greenthread (Thelesperma filifolium) bloom period—February through December, mostly spring
Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) bloom period—August through October
Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) bloom period—May through December
Clasping-coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis) bloom period—April through July
Winecup (Callirhoe involucrata) bloom period—February through June
Texas paintbursh (Castilleja indivisa) bloom period—March through May
Gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya) bloom period—August through November
 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to stop creek bank erosion in North Carolina
June 26, 2009 - Hi: I live in NC where most of the dirt is clay based. I have a small creek behind my house that is eroding. The creek overflows when there is a heavy rain and as a result, gradual erosion. My g...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping large area in Webster KY
February 10, 2012 - We just bought a house that we fell in love with. The land around it . . . well it has GREAT potential but is seriously lacking at the moment. Trying to get the farm up and running leaves very litt...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for erosion control in Missouri
July 23, 2008 - Can you suggest a ground cover to stop erosion on a slight slope in my backyard? I live in Missouri - the soil is very poor in this area and has lots of rock underneath the soil. The yard drains int...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for steep slope in West Virginia
October 05, 2008 - I live in Zone 6 (Eastern Panhandle of WV). I have a rocky, claylike steep slope (30-40% grade, about 50 feet wide and 20 feet long, it sits in the afternoon sun). So I need to plant erosion-control p...
view the full question and answer

Exposed Tree Roots in Austin
September 04, 2012 - I have a large ash tree with a lot of mud at the top of a sloping yard. I want to build a small retaining wall with the ground leveled above. This would entail covering exposed tree roots with 4-18 in...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center