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 - March 24, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Dealing with rain runoff on a slope in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Our lawn is a year old and slopes at about a 45 degree angle with a lot of small holes and tiny gullies from water run-off. I have tried packing them with soil, but it washes away in the rain. Would decomposed granite work and then the bermuda runners would cover it? If not, what should I do? Thank you very much.

ANSWER:

You got tricked by the lack of rain the last couple years into thinking you could just plant on bare soil and get no erosion. So, now it's raining (and you must be watering some, as well) and there is nothing to keep that soil where it was. If the soil you return to the gullies washes away, so will the decomposed granite.

We really don't know enough about your lawn to make very positive suggestions on what to do. Obviously, you have bermudagrass. Was it sodded, seeded and at what time of year? Does it get the 6 or more hours of sun it needs to succeed? Bermudagrass is not native to North America and is also considered one of the most invasive weeds in the South. We are tempted to tell you to simply start over but without those pieces of information, including the size of the property that is involved. We don't know how to give you more explicit information.

It sounds to us like your lawn needs a do-over. If you have 5-6 hours of sun a day, we would recommend Habiturf, devoped at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Please read our How-To Article on Native Lawns: Habiturf, The Ecolological Lawn. Mid-April is the optimum time to plant this grass, and you will have to make haste to do the work on the area to prepare for the lawn. Grasses are the very best plant to put on a slope to deal with erosion. Their long fibrous roots will hold the soil. Because of the slope, you might need to consider an erosion blanket to give the seeds the opportunity to begin to grow and put those roots down.

This probably sounds like a big job, but our opinion is you will never achieve a good lawn for your property until you have made the effort to deal with the erosion and to use plants native to your area, which is what the Lady Bird Johnson Willdflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is all about.

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for erosion control on steep bank in Minnesota
October 21, 2008 - I live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I have a steep slope in back yard which gets considerable rain runoff from the homes above me. What plants/shrubs/trees could I plant on the slope to stop the...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a hillside in WI
February 18, 2012 - I live in Wisconsin and am currently doing a research project on plant variation on the north and south sides of a hill. I was wondering you could suggest any books to me that would address this issue...
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

Erosion for check dam in San Antonio
February 13, 2009 - What are the best trees for a shallow soil wind break in San Antonio? I am building a check dam (maybe 2' deep by 20' wide tall) over a shallow limestone gully to slow the erosion. the gully drai...
view the full question and answer

Searching for nursery with yellow nutsedge in NC
January 27, 2014 - I'd like to plant yellow nut sedge as a cover to stop erosion in a lot. Where can I buy yellow nut sedge plants near Kinston, North Carolina? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

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