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

Tuesday - June 30, 2009

From: Crystal Lake, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a sandy slope at a weekend cabin in central WI.
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a cabin in central Wisconsin where the soil is equivalent to a sandy beach. There are some areas that are nearly impossible to mow because of how steep the incline is. Could you recommend some plants (preferably ground cover or low shrubs) that might work. The area ranges from full sun to full shade. Additionally watering constantly is a problem as it is only a weekend home. Thank you in advance.

ANSWER:

Well, you are certainly faced with a challenge.  Although there are plenty of groundcovers and low spreading shrubs that will grow (and thirive) in your conditions, they will all need watering until they are established. It would be advisable to wait until the weather is a bit cooler to plant, if you can't be there to water every few days.

Grasses are ideal for holding even sandy banks as they have fibrous root systems.  If you simply stop mowing, you may find that there are already some attractive native grasses or sedges (Carex) on your slope.  Here are a few more that are suitable:

Ammophila breviligulata (American beachgrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

A combination search of our native plant data base yields over 50 recommended shrubs.  Shrubs that spread with stolons are ideal. Here are a few from the list which would be great at a cabin.

Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry) - pictures

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)

Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)

There are also a couple ferns that would work in a shadier spot:

Polypodium virginianum (rock polypody)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)


Ammophila breviligulata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Schizachyrium scoparium

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ceanothus americanus

Comptonia peregrina

Gaultheria procumbens

Rhus aromatica

Rosa carolina

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Rhus typhina

 


 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

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

Habiturf lawn in Carson City, NV
October 15, 2013 - I planted habiturf just south of Reno NV May 5. First two months no or little germination because nite temps too cold. Now doing ok except battling purslane and redstem filaree.. SO, I notice bare/spa...
view the full question and answer

Is Milium effusum 'aureum' native to North America from Iowa City, IA
July 23, 2013 - I have seen the cultivar grass milium effusm aureum described as a native of both Europe and the N. America. Both continents HAVE a subspecies of m. effusum. Which is more accurate; is MEA a cultivar ...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for organic farm in Elgin TX
July 22, 2014 - Hi there, I am working to restore native grasses on our certified organic farm in Elgin, TX. We raise eggs, grass fed beef, and grass fed lamb. I am having a terrible time finding organic pastur...
view the full question and answer

Ticks on native grasses in Katy, TX.
July 23, 2012 - Are there native grasses that are less susceptible to tick infestation than others?
view the full question and answer

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