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
18 ratings

Tuesday - September 23, 2008

From: Vista, CA
Region: California
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Groundcover for erosion control
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in southern california. What is the best groundcover to plant on a slope to prevent erosion?


Grasses, with their dense fibrous root systems, are one of the best plants to use for erosion control.  Here are a few suggested grasses for southern California:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Festuca californica (California fescue)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton) and more information

Here are some low-growing shrubs that could be used as groundcovers.  These could be used along with the grasses or instead of the grasses.  Their height is generally 1 to 3 ft.

Symphoricarpos mollis (creeping snowberry) with more information.  This is low-growing shrub that is generally less than 2 feet tall.

Encelia farinosa (brittlebush) with more photos and information

Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern Mojave buckwheat) with more information

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry) with more information

Achnatherum hymenoides

Festuca californica

Koeleria macrantha

Melica imperfecta

Sporobolus airoides

Symphoricarpos mollis

Encelia farinosa

Eriogonum fasciculatum

Mahonia repens



More Erosion Control Questions

Steep slope from Charlotte NC
May 03, 2012 - I live near Charlotte, NC and I have a very steep sloped area from the edge of our front yard down to the road. It's a huge eyesore mainly because it is red clay dirt and has nothing growing on it. W...
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling plants for a shady Minnesota lakeside
August 11, 2015 - I live about 50 yards from a lake and there is a steep embankment. Recently someone decided to cut the trees off the embankment and now the dirt is eroding off the embankment as well as off my back ya...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to prevent erosion in Maryland
February 03, 2009 - Please can you recommend native plants for a north-facing slope, under pine trees? I live in Maryland near the border between the Coastal Plain and Piedmont Plateau, where we have cold to mild Winter...
view the full question and answer

Further explanation of retaining walls and trees from Washington MO
March 11, 2013 - I had a question previously about putting retaining walls across the root system of a 40' tall bald cypress tree(not like spokes on a wheel, but concentric to tree trunk). How wide can the walls be? ...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center