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

Erosion at edge of driveway in Abilene TX
August 26, 2011 - My lawn suffered a great loss of grass over the winter and the soil at the edge of the driveway is washing away with watering and the occasional rains that we have. I am trying to get the grass to gr...
view the full question and answer

Full Sun, Wind-Tolerant Shrubs and Vines for Steep MN Hillside
June 26, 2013 - My neighbor and I share a very steep, large (in total almost 200 ft. wide) west-facing hillside in Excelsior, MN on Lake Minnetonka. We both have a flat grass area at the bottom so the hillside does n...
view the full question and answer

Plants to control hillside erosion in Virginia.
November 21, 2007 - Good Morning, Mr Smarty Plants, I need your advice and guidance. I live in a condo complex in Virginia and we have a hill/slope that is eroding. It also has two very nice tall trees that partially sh...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent riverbank erosion in VA
March 05, 2011 - Looking for a plant to prevent erosion on a riverbank on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Prefer something low, bank is a bit steep for regular mowing but could be mowed infrequently. Riverbank h...
view the full question and answer

Raingarden Plants for Brownsville, TX
March 14, 2014 - I'm a Landscape Architect in South Texas and I'm implementing raingardens and vegetated swales in my projects. What native plants could be used in these gardens/water runways. They would need to res...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center