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Saturday - July 19, 2008

From: Rogers, AR
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Grass for erosion control
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a very shaded sloped back yard. I have not been able to get grass to grow due to the shade. There are approximately twenty 30-40 ft. Oaks in the yard. The yard slopes toward the house. I would like to control the erosion of the soil, but not sure how to approach it. What can I use to stop the erosion, or plant to help control the erosion. I have small children, and they do play in the yard. Thanks for your help.


Grasses and sedges are excellent plants for controling erosion because of their extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil. There are a number of attractive grass species native to Arizona that will grow in the shade and should work very well.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

These are all clump-forming grasses that could be planted, or sown, throughout your yard. You can intersperse the grass clumps with some low shade-loving perennials.

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) is a low-growing herbaceous plant that makes an excellent ground cover. Although it doesn't usually grow very high, it can be mowed if it gets taller than you want.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) is a low-growing woody shrub that also makes a good ground cover.

If you have enough moisture, a fern such as Athyrium filix-femina (common ladyfern) also makes an excellent groundcover in shade.

Finally, here are some miscellaneous herbaceous perennials that you could plant among the grasses.

Geum triflorum (old man's whiskers)

Ruellia nudiflora (violet wild petunia)

Antennaria parvifolia (small-leaf pussytoes) with more information

Argentina anserina (silverweed cinquefoil) makes a good erosion-control plant if you have enough soil moisture.

You can search for more plants that will grow in the shade in Arizona by doing a Combination Search in our Native Plant Database. Select 'Arizona' from the Select State or Province category and 'Shade - Less than 2 hours of sun per day' from the Light requirement category. You can add choices from other categories as well.

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Athyrium filix-femina

Geum triflorum

Ruellia nudiflora

Antennaria parvifolia

Argentina anserina





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