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

Monday - May 17, 2010

From: West Chester, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Need grasses to stabilize a moderately steep slope in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello. We have a moderately steep slope in a shady area that is in need of some help. The grass that is in place there seems to be thriving - nice and green, with good growth. However, kids running in the area, combined with the wheels of the landscapers' equipment, have torn up many areas. What is the best seed or combination to use that would provide (a) shade tolerance, and (b) a measure of 'toughness' that the steep slope requires? Keep in mind that we're located in Southeastern Pennsylvania - not far outside of Philadelphia.

ANSWER:

You didn't mention the kind of grass that is place, but let me begin by saying that Mr. Smarty Plants is into native plants, ie. those plants that are not only native to North America, but native to the area in which they are growing. This leaves out most of the turf grasses. For a moderately steep slope, we generally recommend some types of native grasses/sedges to help stabilize the slope with their fibrous root systems.

To get an idea of the native grasses/sedges that occur in Pennsylvania, go to our Native Plant Database Page and scroll down to the Combination Search box. Make the following selections; Pensylvania under STATE or PROVINCE, grass/grass-like under HABIT, and perennial under DURATION. Check Part shade or Shade (as appropriate) under Light Requirement, and Dry under Soil Moisture. Click on the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a list of native grasses/sedges that are suitable for growth in your state. Clicking on each of the names will pull  up  its NPIN page which contains descriptions and growth requirements as well as images of the plants.

This is a short list of plants from such a search.  Our Suppliers Directory can be helpful in finding sources for the plants or seed.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

From our Image Gallery


Bouteloua curtipendula

Carex pensylvanica

Carex blanda

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

 


 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Viability of buffalo grass in Yuma, AZ
March 30, 2008 - Will Buffalo Grass grow in Yuma, AZ, where the temperature can go as high as 120 degrees in the summer?
view the full question and answer

Landscaper recommends non-native zoysia in Austin
April 05, 2013 - My landscaper recommends using "zoysia" grass throughout my new lawn, in full shade, partly shaded, and non-shaded areas, including in the gaps between leuder stone walks. I haven't heard about th...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
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

Replacing non-native invasives with native grasses and wildflowers from Round Rock TX
April 04, 2012 - I have a small piece of property (1.5 AC) East of Austin, Texas that get's overgrown with weedy vegetation (johnson grass, dandelion, and some tall yellow flowering plant that I see all over the medi...
view the full question and answer

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