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?


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
1 rating

Monday - July 21, 2008

From: Hamden, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion control in New York
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am in zone 5/4 New York and I recently purchased a house with two erosion problems- 1. a seasonal stream has cut a gorge about 20 'deep X 40' long.Mature hemlocks are toppling into this hole. it is semi shade, moist clay soil. 2. A fill bank of nearly pure clay,mostly rock at about 80 degrees,full sun. On this site,erosion is so bad that a mature stand of Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) has been unable to advance,though I am in continual battle with it at the top of the slope. After a winter the gullies are 2' deep and 100' long. I have considered wattling willows but the bank is dangerously steep. I do have the capability to grow 1000's of plants to a gallon size Thank you


Wow! When we get canyons like that in Texas, we call them state parks and charge admission. Of course, it has quit raining here, so we haven't had any new parks open up recently.

To be honest, we think this is probably beyond the scope of what we can do with native plants, or maybe any plants. Our specialty at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the care, protection and propagation of plants native to the area in which they are grown. It sounds more like you need a firm of civil engineers than advice from gardeners. If mature trees and Japanese knotweed are unable to hold their own against the erosion, we can't think of anything else that could. This doesn't sound like a feature that could have been hidden beneath a neatly mowed lawn. Did you have some plans for the site when you purchased it?

Because we don't know zip about construction of retaining walls, etc. we tried to find some websites that could at least give you some ideas of where to start. This first one is actually from a California nursery. They do recommend some plants, but they are all suitable to California. Las Pilitas Simple erosion control for a hillside or garden slope.(California) Another site from the California government has some more ideas for construction or basic erosion prevention. We realize New York is way different from California, but we couldn't find any sites on controlling erosion in New York. We would definitely recommend that you call in some professionals in site control. If that crevice keeps growing and that bank keeps sliding, you're going to run out of a place for your house.


More Erosion Control Questions

Native plants to preserve soil on river bank
May 28, 2006 - I live in eastern Massachusetts. We have a small stream in our backyard and a woodland area on the other side. Japanese Knotweed is pretty well established on the opposite bank of the stream from our ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover that won't hide snakes from Asheville NC
June 29, 2012 - I have an unusual situation: several bare areas in an otherwise wooded area, which receive partial sun, and are not near water -- it rains here frequently, but the soil can become quite dry at times. ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bare clay slope in North Carolina
December 22, 2011 - Hi - I live near Raleigh North Carolina (border of the coastal plain and Piedmont). I have about 1/2 acre that was excavated for a geothermal heating/cooling system and now I need to stabilize it a...
view the full question and answer

Hurricane Ivan damage from Pace FL
January 31, 2010 - My yard on Escambia Bay in NW Florida was stripped of good plants and topsoil by a 4 foot tidal surge in Hurricane Ivan. I have made some plantings, but am just now getting the entire property cleare...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for a Shaded Slope in Aliquippa PA
May 07, 2014 - What plants. shrubs or trees can I plant to retard soil erosion on a steep shaded hillside in PA
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center