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Monday - May 04, 2009

From: Blairsville, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for steep hill in Georgia
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We have a large steep hill with only clay and rocks on it in the North Georgia Mountain area. What is a good Native ground covering to put on this for erosion? Something that grows fast preferably. We do not want grass.


Mr. Smarty Plants is sorry you won't consider some grass in the erosion area. Native grasses are an excellent choice for controlling erosion because they develop extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place.  Depending on how steep your hill is and the extent of erosion, you might want to consider using a erosion-control blanket to stabilize the erosion area so that the seeds can get a better chance to germinate and become established. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediment to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. Underneath the matting the roots of the plants growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.  Seeds can be sown under an erosion control blanket or grass plugs or other plants can be planted through the blanket.  Here are some low-growing plants (generally less than 3 feet) that are known to grow in Union County, Georgia, or in adjacent counties:


Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush)

Chimaphila maculata (striped prince's pine)

Chamaecrista nictitans ssp. nictitans (sensitive partridge pea)

Comandra umbellata (bastard toadflax)

Hypericum buckleii (Buckley's St. Johnswort)


Dryopteris marginalis (marginal woodfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)


Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Hypericum hypericoides ssp. hypericoides (St. Andrew's cross)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE (in case you change your mind):

Aristida stricta (pineland threeawn)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Artemisia ludoviciana

Chimaphila maculata

Chamaecrista nictitans ssp. nictitans

Comandra umbellata

Hypericum buckleii

Dryopteris marginalis

Osmunda cinnamomea


Pteridium aquilinum

Ceanothus americanus

Epigaea repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Hypericum hypericoides ssp. hypericoides

Hypericum prolificum

Aristida stricta

Bromus kalmii

Carex pensylvanica

Chasmanthium latifolium

Eragrostis spectabilis

Muhlenbergia schreberi




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