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

Tuesday - February 03, 2009

From: Bowie, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native plants to prevent erosion in Maryland
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please can you recommend native plants for a north-facing slope, under pine trees? I live in Maryland near the border between the Coastal Plain and Piedmont Plateau, where we have cold to mild Winters and hot, humid Summers, but also frequently have drought conditions. I want to put in native plants to hold this north slope and prevent erosion under the pine trees, but want plants that don't require me watering them once they're established. Attractive/interesting bloom is not essential.

ANSWER:

The best plants for your condition are native grasses, especially since you specified that interesting blooms was not an issue. Grasses have fibrous roots, and grab and hold the soil. They do it for selfish reasons, of course, so they will have dirt to live in and perpetuate themselves but you get the advantages also. You are probably already aware that it is difficult to grow much under pine trees, because of their heavy shade and the blanket of needles beneath them. They also, over time, will cause more acidity in the soil. So, we'll check for acid and shade tolerance of the grasses we choose as examples. To find these grasses, we'll go to our Native Plant Database, go down to COMBINATION SEARCH, select Maryland on the drop-down menu, then  select "grasses" under Habit and shade to part shade on Light Requirements, then click on "Submit combination search." We will then follow the plant link to each plant's page and check on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil preferred by each grass. You can do the same thing, adding in such specifications as Soil Moisture. We are going to leave the Duration blank, so the database will select both annual and perennial grasses.

These plants, either as plugs or seeds, are all commercially available. If you have difficulty locating them, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type your town and state into the "Enter Search Location" box and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environmental consultants in your general area.

GRASSES/GRASS-LIKE PLANTS FOR MARYLAND

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - perennial, 4 to 8 ft. tall, moderately acid and saline tolerant

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem) - perennial, 2 to 5 ft. tall

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - perennial, 2 to 3 ft. tall

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama) - perennial, 10 to 18 inches tall

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft. tall

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - perennial, 10 to 12 inches tall

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - perennial, 2 to 4 ft. tall

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) - cool-season perennial, 2 to 4 ft. tall

Melica nitens (threeflower melicgrass) - perennial, 3 to 5 ft. tall

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft. tall

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - perennial, 1 to 3 ft. tall

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass) - perennial, 2 to 3 ft. tall


Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon virginicus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua hirsuta

Carex blanda

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Melica nitens

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tripsacum dactyloides

 

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Evergreen native plants for slope in South Carolina
July 14, 2008 - We would like to plant an evergreen garden in our backyard, which is on a slope. It receives the sun from approx 9-4. We have an above ground pool, and patio area. Would also like a recommendation of ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover plants for erosion problem in Orlando
June 01, 2009 - Hi, I live in Orlando, and have a terrible erosion problem on one side of my back yard. Every time it rains, I lose my yard under the fence! The area is part sun. Can you please suggest a plant or ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a slope in MD
August 04, 2011 - Looking for a groundcover to hold a shady slope undercut with tree roots in Maryland and to prevent further erosion.
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep clay bank in Summerfield OH
April 07, 2012 - Hello, We have a steep 15-20 foot high bank behind our house here in southern Ohio. Probably 50 ft.long. What could we plant for beauty and erosion control. It is nasty clay soil with lots of shale an...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center