En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

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

Erosion control for steep slope in Southern California
June 05, 2013 - I need help for soil erosion control for a steep slope in sunny Southern California. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a lakeside slope from Bracey, VA
May 24, 2012 - We are trying to beautify and stabilize a relatively large lakeside steep slope with a southern exposure in central Virginia. The soil is characterized by red clay and shale rock. How can we turn this...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control in Bartlesville OK
May 10, 2012 - What kind of plants can we use to stop erosion and loss of bank on a creek that is mostly shaded? Is there any free advice/plants for people that are losing land due to water levels rising/dropping?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center