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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.

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

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Thursday - April 03, 2008

From: Tulsa, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Erosion control in lawn in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I have an erosion control question. I have a growing problem with erosion on one side of my house. The soil from the side of my house slopes down about 8" in about 3 feet to the privacy fence. I am having a big problem with the soil eroding away right under the fence. There is a gap of 3 to 4 inches in some places. The water pools just on the other side of the fence in my neighbors backyard, which could be part of the problem. But I think it's more of the water running down the slope and under the fence. I haven't been too concerned about it for a couple of years, but I now have a small dog who is beginning to get curious about what's on the other side of the fence! I am up for about any suggestion, but I think that some sort of grass or fern would be my choice. The area is fairly shady most of the day which is probably why there isn't a lot of grass in the area. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you very much!

ANSWER:

That's quite a lot of slope in such a short distance. You can't put a retaining strip under the fence, because there are probably zoning rules requiring that you not block drainage. Obviously, the drainage has found its own course, and is following it energetically. Is this rain water coming off an unguttered roof, by any chance? That can definitely cause a heavy water flow and loss of soil. Hopefully, a selection of shade tolerant native plants will at least slow this loss of soil, and help to hold the water where you want it. We found some blooming plants, grass and grasslike plants, one creeping juniper and some ferns, all of which will tolerate quite a bit of shade and help to hold soil in place. By no means could you use all of these plants, they are suggestions that fit your situation. Click on each plant link and read the webpage for height, duration, etc. on each plant. If you wish to know more about that plant, go down to the bottom of the page and click on "Search Google for (name of plant)". Then, you can use your own judgment in selecting which plant or assortment of plants will best serve your purposes.

SHRUB

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper) - Images

GROUNDCOVERS

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)

Viola pedata (birdfoot violet)

Antennaria parvifolia (small-leaf pussytoes)

Ipomoea pandurata (man of the earth)

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

GRASS OR GRASS-LIKE

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus hystrix var. hystrix (eastern bottlebrush grass)

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass)

FERNS

Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair) - Images

Argyrochosma dealbata (powdery false cloak fern) - Images

Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern)

Botrychium virginianum (rattlesnake fern)

Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)




Viola pedata

Antennaria parvifolia

Ipomoea pandurata

Salvia lyrata

Phyla nodiflora

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus hystrix var. hystrix

Eragrostis intermedia

Poa arachnifera

Athyrium filix-femina

Botrychium virginianum

Dryopteris marginalis

 

 

 

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