En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 06, 2007

From: Maple Valley, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion control plantings in Washington state
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I am trying to do an eagle project that involves putting vegetation onto a hill to prevent erosion. I live in Washington state where there is plenty of rain so erosion is a big problem. We are trying to work with dirt that rarely gets watered except by rain, and is extremely rocky. What kinds of plants would hold together a hillside and could be planted in abundance for cheap?

ANSWER:

The best plants for controlling erosion are grasses because of their extensive fibrous root systems. Below are grasses native to King County Washington that should work well for your project.

Agrostis exarata (spike bentgrass)

Bromus carinatus (California brome)

Danthonia californica (California oatgrass)

Deschampsia caespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Dichanthelium acuminatum var. fasciculatum (western panicgrass)

Elymus glaucus (blue wildrye) — especially recommended for erosion control

Festuca occidentalis (western fescue)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

The cheapest way to carry out your project is by sowing grass seeds. However, since you would be sowing the seeds on a hillside, rain is likely to wash the seeds away before they have had a chance to germinate. You might be able to find grass plugs available for sale. They will be more expensive than the seeds but would have a better chance of setting their roots before rain could wash them away. Another (alas, more expensive) possibility is to use erosion control blankets to stabilize the erosion area. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediments 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. You can insert plants into the soil by cutting through the matting. The roots of the plants that are 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. You can read about a stream bank stabilization project implemented by the Department of Environmental Services, Arlington, Viriginia.

You can check our National Suppliers Directory for possible sources in your area for grasses and grass seeds.

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for a steep slope in New York
June 27, 2010 - We just installed a swimming pool in our back yard, which is at the top of a south facing slope. After the pool was installed the slope is now 3 ft higher and very steep (unmowable). I'd guess steepe...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion in Alabama
July 03, 2009 - Our front yard is being washed down the street when we have rainstorms. It's been especially bad this year due to all the rain.What kinds of plants/grasses could we use to help stop the water from r...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for eroding hillside in Kansas
May 08, 2009 - We have a creek running thru our property and the hill running down to it is about 30 feet tall, in some places almost straight down, some sloping. Some is in shade, some full sun. We would like som...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs and small trees for a slope in NY
May 21, 2012 - We are looking for a living wall made of shrubs / small trees - no more than 25' for the top of a steep creek bed. We are looking for the best erosion preventing types.
view the full question and answer

Steep slope from Charlotte NC
May 03, 2012 - I live near Charlotte, NC and I have a very steep sloped area from the edge of our front yard down to the road. It's a huge eyesore mainly because it is red clay dirt and has nothing growing on it. W...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center