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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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