From:Austin, TX Region: Southwest Topic: Erosion Control Title: Environmentally friendly native erosion control plants for arid hillside in Austin Answered by: Nan Hampton
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?
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
Ground cover for a slope in San Antonio TX July 02, 2013 - Slope growing, no or little irrigation ground cover. The slope is probably greater than 30%. The area is currently a construction road at the base, cut into the hill. To re-establish with a ground cov... view the full question and answer
Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ... view the full question and answer
Removing Texas cedar Juniperus ashei from Blanco River banks February 26, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants,
Should cedar trees be removed from our Blanco River banks to prevent them from sucking too much of our precious water before it makes it into the river system?
If so, what s... view the full question and answer
Plants for a steep bank in Virginia June 23, 2009 - I have a small yard with a 3 foot steep bank that I want to plant on. I am looking for fast growing ground cover. There is some shade but not a lot and has a southern exposure. Ground is a bit roug... view the full question and answer
Plants to prevent riverbank erosion in VA March 05, 2011 - Looking for a plant to prevent erosion on a riverbank on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Prefer something low, bank is a bit steep for regular mowing but could be mowed infrequently. Riverbank h... view the full question and answer