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

Friday - December 21, 2012

From: Arnold, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Low-maintenance grass for retention pond
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I would like to know what would be a low-growing grass to put down for a water retention pond. We have clay and rocky soil. The incline of the sides of the retention pond are about 20 feet with grass bottoms and they hardly ever have water in them. I'm looking for something that is low-maintenance that would only have to be cut once a year or less.

ANSWER:

Below are ssuggestions for several grasses and sedges that should work in your retention pond.  They are all native to Jefferson County or an adjacent county in Missouri.

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) would be an ideal solution as long as the retention pond doesn't hold water often.   It grows to only 8 to 12 inches, requires no fertilizer or additional water.  It does occur in neighboring St Louis County.  Here is one of our How to Articles, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, with more information about the grass and how to plant and care for it.

Digitaria cognata (Carolina crabgrass) is a relatively short grass that is native to Jefferson County.  Here is more information from University of Michigan Herbarium and from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Hordeum jubatum (Foxtail barley) is an attractive grass that grows to about 20 inches high. Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers and from Outsidepride.com in Oregon.

Sedges are also a possibility.  They usually don't grow as tall as grasses and will usually tolerate growing in very wet soil which could occur in the retention pond.  The ones listed below are evergreen or semi-evergreen.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Niche Gardens in North Carolina and San Marcos Growers in California.

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) is evergreen.  Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers and from Missouri Plants.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) is semi-evergreen and grows to only 6 to 8 inches high.  Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers and from American Beauty Native Plants in Delaware.

You might try a combination of grasses and sedges at first to see what grows the best in your retention pond area.  It will depend on the amount of sun, the soil type and water availability.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Carolina crabgrass
Digitaria cognata

Foxtail barley
Hordeum jubatum

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for a moist, shady spot in central Texas
July 08, 2016 - I am looking for a plant that will grow in almost full shade with plenty of moisture along a fence. We are looking at putting down some flagstone with possibly some moss growing in between, but we don...
view the full question and answer

Developing fields with native plants from New Egypt NJ
July 24, 2013 - I have several acres of fields that I want to develop with native grasses and flowers. I would like to know the best time to mow the fields so that bushes and volunteer trees don't take over and that...
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for plants under sugar maple (Acer saccharum) tree
March 12, 2011 - We have an area under sugar maple trees and near white pines. We cannot get any grass to grow. There is little moisture and no sun in the summer. We live 25 miles north of Nashville, TN. Can you r...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on partially shaded slope
November 27, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Atlanta, GA. My house is on a hill, and I am beginning to have erosion at my backyard porch (concrete slab, on the corners especially). The soil is mainly red clay, a...
view the full question and answer

Shorter drought-tolerant grasses
August 31, 2007 - We live on 1 1/2 acres near Dripping Springs. We have a variety of grasses, mostly tall, on the back and side of the property. Is there some type of drought tolerant shorter grass or wildflowers or gr...
view the full question and answer

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