The Q&A Archives: Grasses In Hard To Grow Soil

Question: We live on the side of a hill where weather has washed most top soil away leaving just a rocky red clay surface with patches of grass here and there. Even though we seed grass it doesn't stay over a long period. The expense of bringing in top soil would be to much for our budget. What can we do to help our hill side retain top soil and grow grass? What kind of grass seed would work best for our area? We feel we need some thing that would resist heat and drought.

Answer: If you are insistent on growing grass, perhaps you should consider using one of the tall turf type fescues. These are tough grasses that need little coddling and will usually thrive in poor soil. It will take some work to get it to take hold on a hillside, but it can be done. I would contact your cooperative extention office (ph no. 417-345-7551) for suggestions on the varieties that are best for your area.

Otherwise, would you consider using a groundcover other than grass? There are many great plants out there that will hold the soil in place and give you an attractive planting that doesn't need mowing. Some suggestions: bugleweed (Ajuga sp.), wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei 'Colorata'), landscape roses, fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), Thyme (thymus serpyllum), Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).

Good luck!

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