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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.

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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.

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Sunday - June 15, 2008

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Retention of soil on bank in Pittsburgh, PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a steep bank in front of our house in Pittsburgh. We no longer want to mow this bank and wish to plant something that will spread and hold the soil. What do you recommend?

ANSWER:

Native grasses and sedges are the best plants to hold that soil. They have fibrous roots that will grip and retain the soil in rain or snow and spread to cover the bank. When they have begun to take hold, you might consider seeding the bank with wildflower seeds, thus creating a wildflower meadow on that bank. Even in the winter, the sedges and grasses will hold their places, and the wildflowers will reseed themselves. Mow no more. See our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening for help in doing this. We will first go to Recommended Species on our website, click on Pennsylvania on the map, and specify grass and grasslike plants. Since we do not know the sun exposure or soil moisture on your bank, perhaps you will want to do this yourself, checking those boxes with the correct information. Finally, when you are ready to begin planting, go to our Suppliers section, type your city and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape consultants in your general area.

GRASSES

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

SEDGES

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Carex bicknellii (Bicknell's sedge)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex emoryi (Emory's sedge)


Bouteloua curtipendula

Bromus kalmii

Elymus canadensis

Sorghastrum nutans

Andropogon virginicus

Carex bicknellii

Carex blanda

Carex emoryi

 

 

 

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