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

Stabilizing a steep slope in KY
March 31, 2011 - We are building a new home and have a very steep hill behind the home. Our highlift operator just cleared it off - I would say about 15 to 20 feet in height and at least 150 feet in length. What wou...
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

Plants for vertical cliff in Pismo, CA
July 11, 2011 - Need help with erosion control on an 80' steep to vertical, top-soil, south facing cliff, Pismo CA (central coast) area. Terracing not an option. Prefer native, colorful plants that will give the bes...
view the full question and answer

Environmentally friendly native erosion control plants for arid hillside in Austin
July 15, 2006 - Hi, I'm moving into Agave, the new east side development in Austin. It's currently an arid hill with almost no trees and a steep (by gardening standards) hill. As a community, we'd love to...
view the full question and answer

Riverbank Plants for Minnesota
September 04, 2013 - I would like to stablize a steep riverbank slope along the Upper Mississippi in St. Cloud MN. The slopes are almost 1:1. We are using an open cell concrete matt in which we are going to plant native...
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