Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Top soil dressing for bermudagrass
February 25, 2009 - Need to apply top soil dressing to bermudagrass. Can you suggest any type? This area is heavy clay soil and need to even out the lawn as well as feed the grass.
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for wildlife in Katrina recovery area of Louisiana
June 21, 2009 - I live in La in an area decimated by Katrina and want to establish 11 acres of wildlife friendly native short grasses. It is partly designated wetlands because it floods, but also has long periods wi...
view the full question and answer

Established Habiturf in the DFW area from Allen TX
May 15, 2012 - Where can I see an established Habiturf in the DFW area? There are two sites that are obviously DFW (White Rock Lake and Round Rock) mentioned in Ask Mr Smartyplants, but no addresses. If no sites ar...
view the full question and answer

Understory plants for Tuolumne Co., CA
May 14, 2007 - My driveway is lined with purple plum trees. I would like to grow something underneath them. What can I grow that will not harm the root system/health of the trees?
view the full question and answer

Overwintering Juncus spiralis in a Container in PA
November 06, 2014 - I have been growing a Juncus 'Spiralis' in a self-watering container on my zone 7 patio in Pennsylvania happily all summer. I have read that this plant is native and should survive outdoors over the...
view the full question and answer

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