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Friday - February 07, 2014

From: Lorton, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Trees
Title: Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil has a lot of clay. Should we also put some topsoil on top? Some members want to install a drip sprinkler system, but others think this will add to the erosion.

ANSWER:

   Mr. Smarty Plants has a solution to all of this controversy with the use of native plants to landscape this area.  One of the finer properties of native plants is that they have developed in their environment to not need any irrigation or exceptional care.  To combat the erosion, we suggest grasses or shrubs that have extended root systems, those will help hold the soil in place and reduce erosion.

 Here is a selection of previous Mr. Smarty Plants Questions and Answers which address questions similar to yours:
Stabilizing a lakeside slope from Bracey, VA
Riverbank retention in VA
Native Groundcovers for Spartanburg, SC
Erosion Control for a NC Clay Slope

  These all have similar enough lists of grasses and sedges that I think you can find a reasonable set of erosion resistant plants from these.  You also mentioned that all the trees that were planted died.   This link is to the Recommended Species list for Virginia.  If you use the “Narrow the list” capability on the right hand side – you will find nine shrubs that will thrive in full sun and 33 different trees.  All of these will be well adapted, but will need a little bit of support in the first years as they get established.  The Wildflower Center also has some advice for planting trees and getting them established, this can be found in the “How-to Articles" and the “Step by Step Guides”.  By the way, there should be no need for irrigation once they get going!

Here’s a few pictures of plants that are on these lists I supplied – I think you can find some likely candidates amongst them!

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Common serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Red maple
Acer rubrum

American holly
Ilex opaca

Virginia pine
Pinus virginiana

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native plants for roadside in Gallatin TN
February 19, 2012 - What native plant would you suggest that we try to establish on 100 feet of road frontage which gets full afternoon sun? The soil is mostly clay, and it's on a rather sleep hill about 10 feet high. ...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing ground cover for creekside
May 18, 2014 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Austin Texas and am looking for an aggressively spreading ground cover or grass to plant along a small creek on the back of my property in order to help with soil er...
view the full question and answer

Phytoremediation using Paspalum vaginatum
February 06, 2015 - Do you know of any on-going research using Paspalum vaginatum as the prime plant (monoculture) for use in phytoremediation. Utilizing this plant in Vegetated Swales, Spreader Swales, Grassy Swales,...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for morning sun in Pembroke MA
October 07, 2009 - Could you please suggest native groundcover,plants/shrubs/grasses for eastern facing slope which gets morning sun? It is my front yard which slopes down toward driveway so it would be a major focal po...
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Bunch grasses for labyrinth that are good for livestock
September 29, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm designing an outdoor labyrinth that will be in full sun in our black Slidell clay soil here in north central Texas. The area MAY be mowed for hay at a later date (i.e...
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