En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Need plants to cover hillside and control erosion in Woodbine, Kentucky
September 18, 2009 - I live in eastern Kentucky. I have a hillside that is full of weeds how do I get rid of the weeds and what can I plant to cover it. This hillside is not walkable. Is there some kind of vine ? There is...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
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

Native plants for erosion control in sun in Canton PA
August 03, 2010 - We just cleared a bank and need native plants and shrubs to grow for erosion control. Much sun. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Hurricane Ivan damage from Pace FL
January 31, 2010 - My yard on Escambia Bay in NW Florida was stripped of good plants and topsoil by a 4 foot tidal surge in Hurricane Ivan. I have made some plantings, but am just now getting the entire property cleare...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center