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
1 rating

Wednesday - June 01, 2011

From: New Cumberland, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a slope in WV
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in the northern panhandle of WV. We have a hill side in front of our home and are getting too old to cut it. What would be the best ground cover for it. We want something that looks good and will cut off weeds.It's not the best of soil, and is mostly full sun light. Thank you so much for your help !!!!

ANSWER:

Well, grass is still your best bet, but not turf grass that needs to be cut.  There are no rapidly spreading "ground covers" native to your area that will be dense enough to prevent weeds from growing.  The ground covers people conventionally use for that task (like ivy and periwinkle) are non-native invasive plants which we discourage people fom using.

Native ornamental grasses have fibrous root systems; making them excellent plants for a hillside and adapted to the dry conditions that are usually found on a slope.  It will take a while for them to establish, however, so you may have to pull weeds for a few years.  They do look great, especially when backlight by the late summer sun.

Here are a few to consider:

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

You could also mix in perennial wildflowers to brighten up the planting, and attract birds and butterflies such as:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (Smooth blue aster)

Here are some photos fom our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua curtipendula


Panicum virgatum


Schizachyrium scoparium


Sorghastrum nutans


Asclepias tuberosa


Coreopsis lanceolata


Echinacea purpurea


Monarda fistulosa


Rudbeckia hirta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Stabilizing a sand bank in VT
August 13, 2011 - We have a summer cottage in Burlington, Vt. and need to stabilize a mound of sand. The "bank" we are trying to stabilize has partial sun and faces south. It measures approx 4' high and is 30' long...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of native Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass)
January 27, 2008 - Should Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass) be cut down in a similar fashion to other perennial grasses that go dormant in the winter.
view the full question and answer

Developing fields with native plants from New Egypt NJ
July 24, 2013 - I have several acres of fields that I want to develop with native grasses and flowers. I would like to know the best time to mow the fields so that bushes and volunteer trees don't take over and that...
view the full question and answer

Weeds in Habiturf from Austin
May 14, 2012 - We had our old lawn removed, tilled, laid compost, and Habiturf seed spread. I'm not sure if the man we contracted to do the work didn't adequately remove the old weed debris when he prepared the la...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a slope in KY.
September 29, 2012 - I have a slope in my back yard that is mostly a slate shelf, grass and Weeds will grow but not well, very spotty. I am wanting a ground cover that blooms. Would like to not have to mow. This is a ve...
view the full question and answer

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