En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
4 ratings

Wednesday - April 11, 2007

From: Waxhaw, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion control blankets for controlling slope in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We live in NC (red clay dirt). We recently/in the process of installing a pool. They contractor has completely unearthed our entire yard - and part of our property is on a substantial hill. Is there a native plant we can buy and plant into the ground to help hold the hill together? As we think our only option might be to build a retaining wall and really do not want to do that if we can plant some plants that will solve our problem. Please advise. Thank you.


Rather than building a retaining wall, you might consider installing erosion control blankets to help stabilize the erosion area. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediment to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. The roots of the plants growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.

Native grasses are an excellent choice for controlling erosion because they develop extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place. There are several attractive grasses that are native to North Carolina. There are also several herbaceous perennials and small shrubs that could be intermixed with the grasses. For the plants I am recommending, I am assuming that your bare ground would receive considerable sunshine.


Chasmanthium latifolium (Indian woodoats)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Herbaceous Perennials:

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant)

Rudbeckia fulgida (orange coneflower)

Small Shrubs:

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

You can find more suggestions by doing a Combination Search in the Native Plants Database. We also have a Southeast Recommended Native Plant Species List on our Regional Fastpacks web page with more plant suggestions.

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Schizachyrium scoparium

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Physostegia virginiana

Rudbeckia fulgida

Hypericum prolificum

Ceanothus americanus

Rosa carolina







More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for erosion control in Georgia
May 17, 2010 - Hello, I have a question regarding water run-off coming from the neighbors yard as my yard is below their yard. What kind of ground cover would grow very quickly (low to ground) to help with the r...
view the full question and answer

Hillside Groundcovers for Pollinating Insects in Wisconsin
November 28, 2015 - I am looking for native plants for a project around Hudson, Wisconsin. We are to choose native plants to be seeded next spring 2016. They are to be planted on a hillside under and around solar panels ...
view the full question and answer

Preventing erosion on a sloping lot
April 16, 2011 - I am trying to find a native plant to use on a sloped area in my back yard to help prevent the slope from eroding away (zone 7- N. Atlanta, GA). I want something evergreen, between 6 to 30 inches tal...
view the full question and answer

Holding soil on a bank in Goldsboro, NC
July 25, 2010 - I live in Goldsboro, NC on a small ridge with a very steep bank on one side of our property. What native plants can we plant on the bank to help hold the soil. Also, what would be best to plant on t...
view the full question and answer

Virginia creeper in trees
April 26, 2008 - Can Virginia creeper be allowed to climb on trees--specifically Texas ash and live oak--or will it damage them if allowed to attach itself? We are thinking of using it as erosion control in a greenbe...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center