Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
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

Erosion control in Grayson, LA
May 02, 2010 - We live in northern Louisiana. We have a small hill beside our carport that washes. What can we plant to help keep this from washing that will stay green all year long?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Sunny Slope in CT
May 11, 2013 - I need a plant to use as groundcover and for erosion control on a sunny slope in southwestern Connecticut. Any suggestions other than juniper?
view the full question and answer

Erosion control plantings in Washington state
September 06, 2007 - Hi, I am trying to do an eagle project that involves putting vegetation onto a hill to prevent erosion. I live in Washington state where there is plenty of rain so erosion is a big problem. We are t...
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

Solution for erosion on steep slope in California
April 14, 2011 - Dear Mr.Smarty Plants, I have a serious hillside problem in Santa Cruz County resulting from the recent deluge of rain. Steep to sheer now with no plants left on it after the hill slide washed to th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.