Explore Plants

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
    
 

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)

 



 

More Erosion Control Questions

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

Plants for erosion control in East Texas
January 03, 2009 - We have recently moved to Conroe and are having a problem with erosion behind a retaining wall (installed by previous owner. The retaining wall is made of concrete and is about 8 foot tall by 110 foo...
view the full question and answer

Hillside Erosion Control for Gainesville GA
August 07, 2013 - I have a steep bare hill and the runoff from it is heavy this year. I need help with a fast growing groundcover that will help control erosion and runoff. Planting on the hill is difficult because you...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Spicewood TX
March 20, 2013 - I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda G...
view the full question and answer

Exposed Tree Roots in Austin
September 04, 2012 - I have a large ash tree with a lot of mud at the top of a sloping yard. I want to build a small retaining wall with the ground leveled above. This would entail covering exposed tree roots with 4-18 in...
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.