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
8 ratings

Monday - September 29, 2008

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control in arid region
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

In semi arid south west (Phoenix), the drainage is managed by creating incised channels. Typically, the dirt channel can erode with even very low velocities of moving water. To reduce erosion therefore vegetation needs to be established. This is difficult due to lack of adequate and consistent rain runoff. Any suggestion on what kind of vegetation ( ground cover, grass etc) could be used so that gradually it establishes (with minimum infrequent rain) a strong root structure causing a stable environment for handling rain runoff.

ANSWER:

Grasses would be your best bet for erosion control since their extensive fibrous root systems do a good job of holding the soil.  Here is a list of grasses that are native to Arizona and will withstand dry conditions.  To get them established you may have to do some minimal watering at first, but then they should be able to handle dry conditions and hold the soil when it rains.

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn)

Bouteloua eriopoda (black grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Dasyochloa pulchella (low woollygrass)

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (curly-mesquite)

Muhlenbergia emersleyi (bullgrass)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Here are some suggestions for low growing shrubs that would also do well in the area.  You will note that some are specifically suggested for erosion control.

Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort)

Calliandra eriophylla (fairyduster)

Krascheninnikovia lanata (winterfat)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Zinnia grandiflora (Rocky Mountain zinnia)

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume)

If you would like to see more native plants that are commercially available for Arizona, visit our Recommended Species page and select Arizona from the map there.


Achnatherum hymenoides

Bouteloua eriopoda

Dasyochloa pulchella

Sporobolus airoides

Artemisia frigida

Calliandra eriophylla

Krascheninnikovia lanata

Melampodium leucanthum

Zinnia grandiflora

Fallugia paradoxa

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Native plants for eroding hillside in Kansas
May 08, 2009 - We have a creek running thru our property and the hill running down to it is about 30 feet tall, in some places almost straight down, some sloping. Some is in shade, some full sun. We would like som...
view the full question and answer

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
March 26, 2012 - My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in West Mifflin PA
November 23, 2009 - I have recently had a retaining wall rebuilt in my back yard and an above the ground pool installed. My lawn is uneven with no grass and the hillside is very dry dirt with rocks. What type of plant ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a slope in San Antonio TX
July 02, 2013 - Slope growing, no or little irrigation ground cover. The slope is probably greater than 30%. The area is currently a construction road at the base, cut into the hill. To re-establish with a ground cov...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center