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

Wildflower meadow for birds
September 19, 2008 - I put in a wildflower feed plot for the song birds 3 years ago. We prepared the bed by first using Round Up to kill all the grass then lightly tilled to scratch the surface and planted the wildflower ...
view the full question and answer

Need to stabilize a south facing slope in Henderson, NC
April 30, 2010 - Hi, I have a south facing slope that is heavy clay with rock under it. It gets a lot of sun. I have planted a few bushes and some ground cover, but with all the snow and rain we had this past winter, ...
view the full question and answer

Native water plants for bio-retention pond in North Carolina
July 22, 2009 - I am looking for North Carolina native plants that can take part shade and very wet conditions (bioretention pond environment). Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Hardy, inexpensive perennials for Mansfield, TX
March 12, 2008 - I am trying to fill two flowerbeds that are in full sun mostly and right next to the house. I want something that can live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and is pretty hardy. I also don't want to spe...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
view the full question and answer

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