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?

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

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
7 ratings

Tuesday - June 17, 2008

From: Newport News, VA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop erosion on land near lake
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My back yard runs down to the lake. The water is eroding my land. I want plants & flowers [full sun]that can be planted to stop the erosion and add color. Another question: We have a huge oak tree in our front yard. We have had the hardest time getting grass to grow around that area. What do you suggest? We live in Newport News, VA.

ANSWER:

Grasses are going to be the most effective plants to stop the erosion. Their fibrous root systems are excellent for holding the soil in place. After the grasses have stabilized the erosion, you can add wildflowers and shrubs, if you like. Here are some grasses and sedges that should do well in your lawn to stop the erosion.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) grows well in moist areas in full sun and is attractive when green and after it has matured

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) grows well in sun and grows only to about 12 inches without mowing

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Muhlenbergia cuspidata (plains muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Rhynchospora colorata (starrush whitetop) will do well next to the shoreline in the wettest soil

I think it is the constant shade that is affecting the growth of grasses under your oak tree. Some tree species can inhibit the growth of plants beneath them by chemicals released from leaves, roots and fallen debris (e.g., Juglans nigra, black walnut), a process called allelopathy. You can read about the "Potential Allelopathy in Different Tree Species". You don't say which oak you have, but several of oaks on that list in the "Strongest Effect" category do occur in Virginia (Quercus falcata (southern red oak), Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak), Quercus rubra (northern red oak), and Quercus stellata (post oak)). If your oak is one of these species, you can help your situation by keeping the oak leaf, twig, and acorn litter raked from under the tree. Also, you should try grasses that do well in the shade. Here are a few suggestions, some of which are recommended for stopping erosion above:

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)


Andropogon glomeratus

Bouteloua dactyloides

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia cuspidata

Schizachyrium scoparium

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex stipata

Carex texensis

Rhynchospora colorata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chasmanthium latifolium

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Groundcover plants for erosion problem in Orlando
June 01, 2009 - Hi, I live in Orlando, and have a terrible erosion problem on one side of my back yard. Every time it rains, I lose my yard under the fence! The area is part sun. Can you please suggest a plant or ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas
February 24, 2014 - I am looking for some kind of ground cover to control erosion on a north facing slope in Montgomery County, Texas. The area gets very little direct sunlight. I need something that will establish quick...
view the full question and answer

Water eroding corner in Austin
October 25, 2011 - I live close to the Wildflower Center. My yard slopes - as do my neighbors' yards to one corner in my yard. The result is constant moisture in one corner. The rest of the yard is caliche, rocks (m...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for erosion control in sun in Canton PA
August 03, 2010 - We just cleared a bank and need native plants and shrubs to grow for erosion control. Much sun. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a lakeside bank in NC
November 07, 2011 - Our association is looking to plant a huge sloped area that runs down to Lake Wylie. We want to plant something that is good for erosion and that does not grow too tall so that we keep our view of th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center