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
2 ratings

Tuesday - July 22, 2008

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

QUESTION:

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'.

ANSWER:

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

 



 

More Erosion Control Questions

Water seepage problems in basement in Philadelphia
April 09, 2009 - I am interested in stopping/limiting water seepage into my basement by placing water absorbing ground plants along one or both sides. The grass we planted when home was new in July 2007 has taken on o...
view the full question and answer

Construction problems on site in Mansfield OH
April 28, 2012 - Last year we had a rectangular above ground pool put in the person who "leveled" for use did a terrible job and basically dug a huge hole for us to put our pool in. The back side of the pool is abou...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for erosion control in South Dakota
December 04, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota at about 5000 feet ASL. My house is on a steep hill. I had to clear a perimeter around my house of all the pine trees for fire supp...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Ohio
April 23, 2014 - We live on the north side of the Maumee River in Toledo, OH. We are looking to plant something low (3' max) that will stabilize the very steep hill leading down to the river, preventing erosion. Wo...
view the full question and answer

Environmentally friendly native erosion control plants for arid hillside in Austin
July 15, 2006 - Hi, I'm moving into Agave, the new east side development in Austin. It's currently an arid hill with almost no trees and a steep (by gardening standards) hill. As a community, we'd love to...
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