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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 - March 20, 2013

From: Spicewood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Erosion control in Spicewood TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda Grass. We have heard about Depoll Grass(sp?). This grass is supposed to spread easily, be very drought tolerant, and work well to prevent erosion. Is this grass to-good-to-be-true or the answer-to-our prayers?

ANSWER:

Sorry, we have never heard of a grass by that name, and the closest we could find on the Internet was a van DePoll Gardens company, in British Columbia. We don't think that's what you are thinking about. And, if we could find out about it, we would be interested. A grass of any sort that had those specifications would be worth knowing about, and very likely too good to be true.

We are pretty sure, though, that it is not a native grass, which would be all we recommend. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area where they will be growing; in your case, Burnet County. Bermudagrass is not only non-native, but so invasive it is considered one of the worst weeds in the South.

All that having been said, grasses generally are the best erosion control you can have. They have long fibrous roots and take hold of the dirt and keep it in place. One controlling factor is whether or not you have sun (6 hours or more of sun a day), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) or shade (less than 2 hours of sun a day). You should put off selecting a grass until you have observed your property and determine the amount of sunlight in various areas. The shadier it is, the harder to get grasses, especially lawn grasses, to flourish. Because we answer a lot of questions about erosion and ways to deal with it, here are links to some previous Mr. Smarty Plants questions, both in your general area:

Erosion control in Austin

Streambank in Austin

Then, we would like for you to consider the turf grass developed by the Wildflower Center specifically for our area; note that you need about 5 hours of sun a day for this grass to flourish. Go to our site on Habiturf, and be sure and watch the video on installation, as well as follow the links to more information.

Since we don't know if you are looking for grasses for sun or shade, we are going to go to a list of recommended species for the Edwards Plateau.  Please read the paragraph describing this ecosystem, we think you will agree that you are gardening in that ecosystem. Using the sidebar on the right-hand side of the page we will select "grass or grass-like" under Habit, and nothing else. You don't need to select a state, as the Edwards Plateau is only in Texas, and we don't know what height you want or how much sunlight you have. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant (the webpage comes directly from our Native Plant Database) and determine if its characteristics fit your requirements. You can do the same search yourself, this time selecting sun exposure and desired height, or whatever other requirements you have.

Erosion-preventing grasses for Burnet County, TX:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss)

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (Hairy grama)

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Melica nitens (Three-flower melic)

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Cedar sedge
Carex planostachys

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Three-flower melic
Melica nitens

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Texas bluegrass
Poa arachnifera

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Purpletop tridens
Tridens flavus

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to stabilize a steep bank in South Carolina
January 09, 2010 - I would like to use native plantings to stabilize a steep bank. The bank is on the side of the gravel road I cut back into the woods and around a 36" pipe going under the road to allow the free flow ...
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Native grass and/or wildflower seed mix for erosion control in North Carolina
June 23, 2009 - I'm looking for a native grass and/or wildflower seed mix to control erosion on a new mountain road in a pine forest (red clay dirt). The soil is dry and partly shaded, depending on the hour of the d...
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Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
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August 11, 2013 - Are there any salt water tolerant grasses or forbs with deep roots that grow in shade? I live on a tidal inlet/canal on Long Island NY. The southern bank has cedars and oaks but the soil is eroding ...
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Native plants to prevent erosion in Maryland
February 03, 2009 - Please can you recommend native plants for a north-facing slope, under pine trees? I live in Maryland near the border between the Coastal Plain and Piedmont Plateau, where we have cold to mild Winter...
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