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

Sunday - May 20, 2012

From: Lago Vista, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Need suggestions for native grasses to stabilize hillside Lago Vista, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I was hoping for some advice. We live on a hillside near Lake Travis. 10-12 years ago I removed all cedar trees. There is approximately 1-2 acrees of steep land between our residence and the lake. I attempt to clear the hillside annually, however in the steeper areas it is closer to every 2 years. There has been a resurgence of native grasses in the flatter areas, however in the steeper areas there still remains brush (approximately 6' tall) of unknown plants. I would love to get some sort of native grass growing on the steeper areas. Suggestions? Tips? Seeds you recommend buying from you guys? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants applauds your use of native grasses, but is wondering what kinds of plants you are removing in your annual clearings.

Lets go to our Native Plant Database page to find some grass species for your hillside. Scroll down to the Recommended Species Lists and click on the map to enlarge it. Click on Central Texas and you will get a list of 156 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. We are only interested in grasses for now, so let’s  go to the Narrow Your Search box to the right of the screen and make  the following selections; select Texas under State, Grass/grass-like under General Appearance, and Perennial under Lifespan. Check Sun under Light requirement, and Dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Narrow Your Search button, and you will get a list of 9 species that fit these criteria. Clicking on the scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN profile page that has information about the plants characteristics and growth requirements, and in most cases pictures.
As you go through the list, look for plants that meet your growing conditions, and are the right height for your situation.
A bit of information that could be useful is that there are cool season grasses and warm season grasses.  Warm season grasses germinate in the spring and, since they are heat and drought tolerant, are generally green throughout the spring and summer.  They  begin turning brown in the fall and remain so throughout the winter.  Cool season grasses germinate in the fall and are green and growing throughout the winter and spring, but die back in the heat of summer. You might consider some of each type so that you could have grass cover for most of the year.
Here are three possibilities for warm season grasses

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)

One possibility for a cool season grass

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Seeds for these grasses along with planting tips are available from Native American Seed Company in Junction, TX.

 

From the Image Gallery


Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

More Erosion Control Questions

Plant for Erosion Control on Wooded Slope in MD
May 19, 2015 - We are looking for a plant to help with erosion control on a wooded slope next to our drive. The roots of several of the trees are exposed like a shelf, so I think it's a fairly severe problem. We ar...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas
September 29, 2008 - I have a 1/3 acre of drainage easement behind my home. I would like to cover it with wildflowers. It is only wet during or shortly after a rain and otherwise does not have water. I have channelled ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan
May 30, 2008 - We care for Lake Michigan dune near our home in New Buffalo and would like to provide erosion control with native species that will also enhance the beauty of the dune with long lasting flowers. The ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a steep slope in New York
June 27, 2010 - We just installed a swimming pool in our back yard, which is at the top of a south facing slope. After the pool was installed the slope is now 3 ft higher and very steep (unmowable). I'd guess steepe...
view the full question and answer

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