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Sunday - March 30, 2014

From: Phenix City, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
Answered by: Larry Larson


Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day. Hopefully cheap to initially plant, easy or no maintenance, and self seeding. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  Mr Smarty Plants thinks you are certainly working in the right direction to look for native plants to stabilize your berms.  They certainly fit your requirements of easy or no maintenance and self seeding. 

  The general approach we use to limit erosion is to recommend clumping grasses or shrubs that have extended root systems.  It is these that hold the soil and stabilize it against the flow of water.  I’ve collected a set of previous question/answer pairs from Mr Smarty Plants that address erosion and groundcover recommendations from cities in Alabama and Georgia.   In addition to the recommendations, pay attention to the methods using the Wildflower Center resources to find candidate plants and approaches.

Ground cover for sun in Phenix City, AL 

Plants to stop erosion in Alabama 

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama 

Plants for slope in central Alabama 

Native plants for erosion control in Cataula GA 

Deer Resistant, Fast Growing Groundcover Suggestions for Georgia  

Hillside Erosion Control for Gainesville GA 

Here are 5 grasses from those recommended above that are relatively low and tend to clump, which means they will function well controlling erosion.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Aristida stricta (Pineland threeawn)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Andropogon virginicus (Broomsedge bluestem)


Two more groundcovers [Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) and Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit) ] from the above discussions are quite low and give great cover and virtually zero maintenance. They are a bit less functional at erosion control, but are an excellent zero maintenance lawnlike cover.


From the Image Gallery

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Pineland threeawn
Aristida stricta

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Broomsedge bluestem
Andropogon virginicus

Straggler daisy
Calyptocarpus vialis

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

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