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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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Thursday - April 25, 2013

From: Pittsburgh , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Soils, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for steep slope in Pittsburgh PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a similar question to one from SC. I live in Pittsburgh, PA. We have a steep slope behind a newly built in pool. What type of plants can I put on the hillside to hold the soil. It gets a lot of sun. There is also a lot of rock under the soil. I appreciate your answer.

ANSWER:

We believe this is the previous Mr. Smarty Plants question to which you are referring; we just answered that one a few hours ago so there may be others that you saw, but we understand you are interested in erosion control on a steep hill. The one we linked you to from South Carolina had the problem of a clay soil, which is very difficult to work with, especially for plants that need good drainage for their roots. Since we don't know what your soils are in Allegheny County in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania we will try again to find native plants that are native to your area, counting on the fact that they are native to indicate they will grow in whatever soil, climate and rainfall you have.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scrolling down to our Combination Search. Then we will select on Pennsylvania for State, run 3 different searches, one on grasses and grasslike plants, one on shrubs and one on herbs (herbaceous blooming plants). For each search we will indicate "sun" under light requirement.  The grasses, of course, are our preference because their long fibrous roots will help to hold the soil, but there are also shrubs and flowering plants that will help the looks of the hillside. These grasses will all be taller native grasses, not lawn grasses, as you would obviously prefer not to mow a hillside. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn growing conditions, moisture needed and best propagation practices. You may, of course, rerun these searches making different specifications and your own choices.

Grasses for Allegheny County, PA:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Shrubs for Allegheny Co., PA:

Amelanchier stolonifera (Running serviceberry)

Hibiscus moscheutos (Crimsoneyed rosemallow)

Rosa blanda (Smooth rose)

Symphoricarpos albus (Common snowberry)

Herbaceous Blooming Plants for Allegheny Co., PA:

Agalinis purpurea (Purple false foxglove)

Antennaria plantaginifolia (Plantain-leaf pussytoes)

Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Halberdleaf rosemallow
Hibiscus laevis

Smooth rose
Rosa blanda

Common snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus

Purple false foxglove
Agalinis purpurea

Woman's tobacco
Antennaria plantaginifolia

Bride's feathers
Aruncus dioicus

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

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July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
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