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
3 ratings

Thursday - January 29, 2009

From: Charlotte, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native plants for erosion control in North Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an area on the north side of my house that is a hill with about a 6:1 slope. It also has a set of steps used to get from the front of the yard to the rear yard. It is very shaded. I am having a problem with erosion around my steps and stepping stones. I plan to cover the area around the steps/stepping stones with small river stone. My local nursery suggested Phlox. I would like a recommendation on some types of plants that would provide color and ground cover in this situation, that will be low maintenance if possible ? Can you please provide some insight ?

ANSWER:

Probably the biggest deterrent to erosion is a grass or sedge. They have fibrous roots that grab and hold the soil, and keep it from slithering away. We realize you specified adding some color to your area, and some of the grasses do have color and can be very attractive. We will select some blooming groundcovers and some grasses that we feel would address your problem. To do this, we will go to our Recommended Species site, click on North Carolina on the map, and then NARROW YOUR SEARCH, selecting "Herb" (herbaceous flowering plants) under Habit, and "Shade" under light requirements. We will repeat the process selecting "Grass or Grass-like" under Habit. From those, we will be able to pick plants native, not only to North America but to North Carolina, that will thrive in the conditions you specified. You can follow the links to each plant page and learn how big it gets, whether it's perennial or annual, what color the blooms are, etc. These plants are all commercially available; if you have difficulty locating the ones you like, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and it will give you a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environmental specialists in your general area.

HERBS (herbaceous flowering plants)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

GRASSES OR GRASS-LIKE PLANTS

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Aquilegia canadensis

Coreopsis lanceolata

Monarda didyma

Phlox divaricata

Carex blanda

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Low-growing plants for steep bank to prevent erosion
March 24, 2010 - We recently bought a house (6 months ago) in Memphis, TN that backs up to a concrete drainage ditch. There is a fairly steep, mostly shaded bank that leads from the flat section of the back yard to th...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion in IL
August 02, 2012 - We just got done building a house and have leveled all of the dirt piles. We do have a row of straw bales to help prevent the dirt from washing onto the neighbors property. It is the wrong time of ye...
view the full question and answer

Erosion under a Live Oak in Edom TX
March 31, 2009 - We have a large Live Oak tree in the front yard that I wouldn't part with for the world. The soil is almost solid sand underneath the tree, and in deep shade. It is on a slight slope and eroding wi...
view the full question and answer

Plant Suggestions for a Partly Sunny Steep Bank in Illinois
November 09, 2013 - I am looking to plant something on a steep clay bank on our Illinois property. It is on the edge of our dirt road with trees above the bank and is partly sunny. What would work best for that type of a...
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a sand bank in VT
August 13, 2011 - We have a summer cottage in Burlington, Vt. and need to stabilize a mound of sand. The "bank" we are trying to stabilize has partial sun and faces south. It measures approx 4' high and is 30' long...
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