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Tuesday - July 22, 2008

From: Burlington, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Groundcover for erosion control
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have a sloped area in my back yard where we need to plant some erosion control plants. The area is above a large (100 foot long x 4 foot tall) stone wall and another smaller wall of natural stone. It's the area above the natural stone wall that requires the plants. The area is south-facing with partial shade and good drainage. What do you recommend for low-growth, low/no-maintenance plants? This area is not 'mowable'.


Grasses are the best erosion-control plants because their fibrous root systems hold the soil so well. However, even the more attractive grasses tend to be taller than you probably want. Sedges have a similar root system and, in general, are shorter. Two sedges that grow in partial shade in Massachusetts are Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) and Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge).

Two species of phlox, Phlox subulata (moss phlox) and Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox), are both low-growing and effective in erosion control.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) and Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) are evergreen groundcovers that grow well in shade and partial shade in Massachusetts.

These two ferns, Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern) and Osmunda regalis (royal fern), are not low-growing but they could make an attractive plant for the area.

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Phlox subulata

Phlox divaricata

Mitchella repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmunda regalis



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