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?

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
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
1 rating

Thursday - April 25, 2013

From: Pittsburgh , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Soils, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for steep slope in Pittsburgh PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a similar question to one from SC. I live in Pittsburgh, PA. We have a steep slope behind a newly built in pool. What type of plants can I put on the hillside to hold the soil. It gets a lot of sun. There is also a lot of rock under the soil. I appreciate your answer.

ANSWER:

We believe this is the previous Mr. Smarty Plants question to which you are referring; we just answered that one a few hours ago so there may be others that you saw, but we understand you are interested in erosion control on a steep hill. The one we linked you to from South Carolina had the problem of a clay soil, which is very difficult to work with, especially for plants that need good drainage for their roots. Since we don't know what your soils are in Allegheny County in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania we will try again to find native plants that are native to your area, counting on the fact that they are native to indicate they will grow in whatever soil, climate and rainfall you have.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scrolling down to our Combination Search. Then we will select on Pennsylvania for State, run 3 different searches, one on grasses and grasslike plants, one on shrubs and one on herbs (herbaceous blooming plants). For each search we will indicate "sun" under light requirement.  The grasses, of course, are our preference because their long fibrous roots will help to hold the soil, but there are also shrubs and flowering plants that will help the looks of the hillside. These grasses will all be taller native grasses, not lawn grasses, as you would obviously prefer not to mow a hillside. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn growing conditions, moisture needed and best propagation practices. You may, of course, rerun these searches making different specifications and your own choices.

Grasses for Allegheny County, PA:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Shrubs for Allegheny Co., PA:

Amelanchier stolonifera (Running serviceberry)

Hibiscus moscheutos (Crimsoneyed rosemallow)

Rosa blanda (Smooth rose)

Symphoricarpos albus (Common snowberry)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Allegheny Co., PA:

Agalinis purpurea (Purple false foxglove)

Antennaria plantaginifolia (Plantain-leaf pussytoes)

Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Crimson-eyed rose-mallow
Hibiscus moscheutos

Smooth rose
Rosa blanda

Common snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus

Purple false foxglove
Agalinis purpurea

Plantain-leaf pussytoes
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Bride's feathers
Aruncus dioicus

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to prevent bank erosion in Virginia
April 02, 2009 - I am looking for good native plant choices for a steep river bank. My driveway is at the top of this slope, so I will need to avoid any plants that would cause erosion. I would prefer low shrubs.
view the full question and answer

Need plants to cover hillside and control erosion in Woodbine, Kentucky
September 18, 2009 - I live in eastern Kentucky. I have a hillside that is full of weeds how do I get rid of the weeds and what can I plant to cover it. This hillside is not walkable. Is there some kind of vine ? There is...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in California
November 13, 2010 - Where do I find out about the specific root structure of various California native plants? Are there shrubs that have tap roots & hence are good for steep slopes? The genus of any such plants that y...
view the full question and answer

Erosion for check dam in San Antonio
February 13, 2009 - What are the best trees for a shallow soil wind break in San Antonio? I am building a check dam (maybe 2' deep by 20' wide tall) over a shallow limestone gully to slow the erosion. the gully drai...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center