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?


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 - 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


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.


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 Seeds and Seeding Questions

Lack of Fruit on Forestiera
March 17, 2013 - I have not been able to get berry production on my elbow bush. I have male and female plants. Is it possible to help with the pollination process? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Seed for Kosteletzkya virginica, salt marsh mallow
January 13, 2009 - I have a nursery in North Carolina. We are looking for a reliable seed source for kosteletzkya virginica salt marsh mallow. We are www.campbellfamilynursery.com
view the full question and answer

Corn gluten on Habiturf from Austin
January 25, 2014 - I live in Central Austin. This past Spring 2013) I replaced my San Augustine lawn with Habiturf. My question concerns corn gluten. It is usually applied in late Jan - mid Feb. Would using corn glu...
view the full question and answer

Can poisonous seed of wild plum be safely removed after steaming from Seymour IA
June 20, 2013 - I read on a related questions that you said the pit/seeds of all wild plums are poisonous. My question is this, can I juice the entire fruit for making jelly without removing the pit first? I have a s...
view the full question and answer

Cold stratification of Rudbeckcia maxima from Birdeye AR
August 08, 2013 - How long do I cold stratify Rudbeckia maxima seeds that I wild harvested? Can I put them in the freezer instead of fridge? Do I need to make sure they are completely dry before cold strat?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center