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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 17, 2009

From: Rio Rico, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop erosion in Arizona
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a plant to stop erosion; I have big wash outs that are starting to erode my yard so I guess I'm looking for deep rooting plants. I live south of Tucson, Arizona. If you can advise me I would be grateful.

ANSWER:

Generally, the best plants for erosion control are grasses. They have fibrous roots that can really grip the soil and keep it from washing away. These are not going to be turf grasses, some of them grow several feet tall; the taller they are, the longer their roots are, thus the advantage. If you have a large area, you can even have groundcovers, wildflowers, shrubs and trees in the mix. See our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening to get some suggestions. However, at this point, we are just going to suggest some grasses native to your area. Consider contacting the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension office, Santa Cruz County, AZ. The Home Page has contact information, and you can also check their site on Horticulture. If you are having this problem, probably others are, also, and the Extension Office should have some ideas more specific to your area. 

Follow the plant links to the webpage for each individual plant, and find out what the sun, water and soil needs of each grass are, and choose for your location. We will find these grasses by going to our Recommended Species section, click on the state of Arizona on the map, and then click NARROW YOUR SEARCH,  select "Grasses and grass-like" under Habit. This gave us 26 grasses native to Arizona from which to choose. You can then follow each plant link to a webpage on that plant for more information on amount of sun and moisture needed, type soil, etc. All should be commercially available, but if you have difficulty locating the ones you want, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you should get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants. 

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass) - 1 to 2 ft. perennial

Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn) - 1 to 2 ft. perennial

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. stem, perennial warm season grass

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) - 3 to 12", can actually be used as a turf grass

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - 10 to 18" perennial

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass) -  1 to 3 ft. perennial

Pascopyrum smithii (western wheatgrass) - 15 to 30" cool season perennial

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)


Achnatherum hymenoides

Aristida purpurea

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua hirsuta

Eragrostis intermedia

Pascopyrum smithii

Schizachyrium scoparium

 



 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
view the full question and answer

Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan
May 30, 2008 - We care for Lake Michigan dune near our home in New Buffalo and would like to provide erosion control with native species that will also enhance the beauty of the dune with long lasting flowers. The ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a windbreak on a slope in OH
April 20, 2011 - Have property at the top of a valley with a steep drop off. Would like to know native to NE Ohio ground covers, grasses perennials, and not too tall trees for windbreak that will prevent erosion. The ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion tolerant plants for shade from Kerrville TX
August 06, 2013 - We have just cleared a lot of cedar out of a small draw and would like to know the best groundcovers, shrubs, etc. to plant to hold the soil. Deep shade most of the day.
view the full question and answer

Controlling erosion in Leburn KY
July 21, 2009 - I would really appreciate advice on controlling a serious erosion problem in eastern Kentucky. The slope is north facing, shady and moist with rich soil. Would prefer to use native Kentucky plants. ...
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