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

Wednesday - June 06, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Need native plant to stabilize 45 degree slope in Houston, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


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.


Two questions that Mr. Smarty Plants would have are; what is growing there now? ; and what kind of soil are we talking about?
Generally, we recommend grasses and grass-like plants for slope stabilization. To look at some possibilities, lets go to the Native Plant Database  and use the  Combination Search option. 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 Submit Combination Search button and you get 57 species that meet these criteria. Clicking on the scientific name of each species will bring up its NPIN page that contains the characteristics of the plant, its growth requirements and, in most cases, photos. As you go through the list, look for  plants that match your growing conditions.

Here are some possibilities
Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)  

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)   

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) 

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) 

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)   a sedge

A 45 degree slope seems pretty formidable. You might consider consulting a landscape architect to see if some sort of terracing  should be incorporated into the project.

Native American Seed Coompany in Junction has seed mixes for various apllications, and their "Dam Slope mix" might be of interest to you. They also have a lot of information about planting seeds.

Another source of help and information is the Harris County office of Texas Agrilife Extension.


From the Image Gallery

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Weeds in Habiturf from Austin
May 14, 2012 - We had our old lawn removed, tilled, laid compost, and Habiturf seed spread. I'm not sure if the man we contracted to do the work didn't adequately remove the old weed debris when he prepared the la...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for creek area near Abilene, Texas
April 04, 2009 - I have constructed several low water crossings on a live creek in the Abilene,Texas area and need to find out the best grass to plant to hold secure the soil and keep down erosion. The creek does runs...
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

Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
May 22, 2013 - Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?
view the full question and answer

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
March 26, 2012 - My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of...
view the full question and answer

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