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

Friday - June 13, 2008

From: Jackson, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for ditch bank to stop erosion
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a huge ditch on my property. The ditch bank is about 5,000 sq ft. There is a lot of erosion and I am looking to correct the problem. Is there any type of SEED, I am not looking to plant mature plants over that much space, that would be good erosion control and also not grow very high so I will not have to mow it?

ANSWER:

Grasses are the very best plants to use for erosion control—especially on slopes—because of their extensive fibrous root systems that are very effective in holding the soil in place. Additionally, they are easy to start by seed. There are lots of choices of grasses for Tennessee. You can look at them all yourself if you go to our Native Plant Database and do a Combination Search, choosing 'Tennessee' from Select states and provinces and 'Grass/Grass-like' from Habit (general appearance). From that list I have chosen a few that should do well and be attractive on your site. Most grasses grow 1.5 to 3 feet tall. I've tried to pick out the shorter ones and tried to pick ones that are attractive when mature as well as when they are green and growing. You will need to choose those from the list that fit your available sunlight and soil moisture. Sedges would also work and are usually shorter than grasses and some are evergreen. The problem with sedges is finding seeds for them rather than small plants. After the grass is established and is controlling the erosion, you can add some wildflowers to grow with them.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) 2-3 feet

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) 1-3 feet

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge) 12-18 inches

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) 6-12 inches

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) 2-4 feet

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) 2-4 feet

Elymus hystrix var. hystrix (eastern bottlebrush grass) 1-3 feet

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) 1.5-3 feet

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass) 1-2 feet

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) 1-3 feet

Read "The Return of Native Grasses to Tennessee" by Andrea Shea from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for an interesting discussion of native grasses. As stated in this article, you need to be careful about where you get your seeds. You want native seeds that aren't contaminated with invasive species. You can search for seed companies that specialize in native plants in your area in our National Suppliers Directory. On a quick search I found Dropseed Native Plant Nursery in Goshen, Kentucky, Nashville Native LLC in Fairview, Tennessee and Ohio Prairie Nursery in Hiram, Ohio, all of which deal in 100% native plants.


Bouteloua curtipendula

Carex blanda

Carex cherokeensis

Carex pensylvanica

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Elymus hystrix var. hystrix

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Poa arachnifera

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
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

Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
July 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

Raingarden Plants for Brownsville, TX
March 14, 2014 - I'm a Landscape Architect in South Texas and I'm implementing raingardens and vegetated swales in my projects. What native plants could be used in these gardens/water runways. They would need to res...
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