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
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

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
view the full question and answer

Construction problems on site in Mansfield OH
April 28, 2012 - Last year we had a rectangular above ground pool put in the person who "leveled" for use did a terrible job and basically dug a huge hole for us to put our pool in. The back side of the pool is abou...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bank too steep to mow
June 24, 2009 - Like the inquiry made in late June of 2008, mine involves a bank that is too steep to mow. However, ours is facing south. I am looking for a native grass, plant or groundcover. Any suggestions? ...
view the full question and answer

Native grass for erosion control on Shoal Creek in Austin, TX
June 22, 2011 - What is the best grass seed for erosion control in Austin, TX - Shoal Creek goes through my back yard and I need to seed some areas and it gets lots of sun.
view the full question and answer

Stopping Soil Erosion on a Slope
May 13, 2013 - I live in Bonaire, GA and have a slope in my back yard. The soil is red clay and it gets sun most of the day. A small section of this slope tends to have a mudslide to the bottom of the slope. How ...
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