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

Retention ponds for states in southeast, from Greenville SC
July 14, 2012 - We provide maintenance for Stormwater detention ponds and are looking for native grasses to plant in the bottom and sides of typically dry detention basins. Prefer low growing grasses that spread to...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for shady slope in Kentucky backyard
August 28, 2013 - I live in northern Kentucky (near Cincinnati). I have an area in my backyard that has slope. It is next to an ash tree and is very shady. Water erosion has washed away the top soil and pretty much no...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping recommendations for site in Dubuque, IA
March 27, 2010 - I need a seed recommendation. Here are the variables: Location: Dubuque, IA (east Central Iowa) Soil type: Sandy to sandy and gravelly. Part is a riverbank facing east. Steep bank then flat to ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in Pittsburgh, PA
August 22, 2009 - I have a terraced high side lot(front of house). I currently have Yuccas growing, but they are too invasive. Can you suggest plants, shrubs, or ground covers that are not as invasive and will still ...
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