Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

Native plants for creekside erosion control
December 16, 2006 - I need advice on what native plants I can use to slow erosion by my creek. The watershed for a large area ends up at my place, and nothing is growing where most of the runoff flows. I've got braken...
view the full question and answer

Erosion blanket question from Antimony UT
August 03, 2011 - I want to use an erosion control blanket for a hill and want to know what type I should purchase that would allow planting seeds and them growing up through the blanket
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion on land near lake
June 17, 2008 - My back yard runs down to the lake. The water is eroding my land. I want plants & flowers [full sun]that can be planted to stop the erosion and add color. Another question: We have a huge oak tree ...
view the full question and answer

Possibilities of plants for bank shale ledge in Johnstown, PA
April 20, 2008 - We have a mountain that we ripped out to build our house. The remaining ledge is mostly bank shale and everyone is telling us that nothing will grow on the hillside due to it being bank shale and a p...
view the full question and answer

Need native plant to stabilize 45 degree slope in Houston, TX.
June 06, 2012 - Can you recommend a native TX plant to be used to stabilize a 45 degree slope in the Houston area? Durability, maintenance and appearance should be considered. Thank You.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.