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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 05, 2009

From: Tully, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcover to reduce erosion for shady area in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live on a lake with gravelly and clay soils, lots of wind and little sun. I am looking for a native ground cover that will help reduce erosion over some of the steep slopes facing south (under shade trees)

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for controlling erosion on steep slopes because they develop extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil.  Most grasses do best in sun or partial shade. Your lack of sun limits the choice for grasses and grass-like plants (sedges), but there are a few possibilities.  I have also recommended some low growing shrubs and ferns that will tolerate clay soils.  All of the plants have been recorded in, or adjacent to, Onondaga County, New York:

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex plantaginea (plantainleaf sedge)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

SMALL SHRUBS:

Chimaphila maculata (striped prince's pine)

Rubus pubescens (dwarf red blackberry)

Vaccinium pallidum (Blue Ridge blueberry) and photos

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)

Gaultheria hispidula (creeping snowberry) and photos

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry)

PERENNIAL HERB:

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (feathery false lily of the valley)

FERNS:

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)



Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex plantaginea

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Chimaphila maculata

Rubus pubescens

 


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ceanothus americanus

Epigaea repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Hypericum prolificum

Vaccinium oxycoccos

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Pteridium aquilinum

Osmunda cinnamomea
 

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