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

Friday - February 13, 2009

From: Helotes, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion for check dam in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What are the best trees for a shallow soil wind break in San Antonio? I am building a check dam (maybe 2' deep by 20' wide tall) over a shallow limestone gully to slow the erosion. the gully drains 85,000 sq. ft. of road, so when it rains there is lots of water, but once everything dries up, it is just as dry as uphill areas. After I build it, I intend to fill it with soil, then plant trees to act as a windbreak for the cold north winter winds. The gully is in a highly porous recharge area for the Edwards Aquifer. I will be able to protect the trees from deer with chicken wire, so it only needs to be deer resistant Therefore the ideal tree would have the following qualities: Evergreen - slows the wind more than branches Tall - area I wish to protect is 8' uphill Shallow roots - Soil will never be deeper than 2' before it hits limestone Erosion control - holds soil together even when socked with a lot of water Taproot - punch holes in the limestone for more waterto infiltrate instead of flow downhill Drought resistant - when there is water, there will be lots of it, but it may have to go 5-9 months without water (like this year 08-09). It will get help for the first two years to establish itself. Any fill soil recommendations would be welcome. The area around the gully is a yellow caliche. I would like to fill with a soil that will retain water well, not get washed downhill too easily, but not be so fertile that the trees will refuse to grow into the surrounding caliche and restrict their root system to the fill soil. BTW - I am using your bee and butterfly recommendations. Best Regards, Robert Davidson

ANSWER:

Much as we would like to help you, this seems to be somewhat beyond our capabilities. Mr. Smarty Plants is made up of staff members at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center and volunteers, with the volunteers not necessarily having scientific, engineering or even horticultural training, as is the case with this particular volunteer. This sounds like a pretty complex project, and some of the trees you are looking for, as in a taproot that will punch holes in limestone, are unlikely to exist. We have no knowledge of soil types and how they react to overwatering or underwatering. We would suggest you go to a soil engineer who is trained in this kind of situation, and can give you much more expert help than we can.
 

More Erosion Control Questions

Shade tolerant plants for erosion from Austin
May 03, 2014 - I live in Austin and my house backs up to Shoal Creek. I am looking for a native creeping vine or something that will grow on the shaded bank to help prevent erosion. It should be able to tolerate the...
view the full question and answer

Looking for grasses for slope around retention pond in Florida
August 02, 2011 - I live in St. Petersburg, FL on a large retention pond. Most of my neighbors on the pond have seawalls. I do not nor do my neighbors to my left and right. I am interested in colorful grasses to put...
view the full question and answer

Plants to control hillside erosion in Virginia.
November 21, 2007 - Good Morning, Mr Smarty Plants, I need your advice and guidance. I live in a condo complex in Virginia and we have a hill/slope that is eroding. It also has two very nice tall trees that partially sh...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover plants for slope to prevent erosion
June 05, 2008 - Hi, I have just made a 3/4 acre pond and the south facing slope is too steep to mow.Can you suggest any ground cover plants I could use to look nice and prevent erosion.
view the full question and answer

Looking for plants for erosion control in Tennessee.
July 14, 2009 - We are looking for plants native to east Tenessee that will help control erosion once the kudzu in a ravine has been removed. The site is full sun with dry soil. Moderate to fast growth and resist...
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