En Español

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?


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

Monday - June 01, 2009

From: Orlando, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Groundcover plants for erosion problem in Orlando
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hi, I live in Orlando, and have a terrible erosion problem on one side of my back yard. Every time it rains, I lose my yard under the fence! The area is part sun. Can you please suggest a plant or groundcover that would do well? Thank you!


Grasses are ideal plants for holding soil in place because of their extensive fibrous root system.  If the area where the erosion is occurring is really bare, you might consider putting down an erosion-control blanket until your grass or other plants 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.  Many plant nurseries carry this erosion control material.

Here are some plants that should help with your eroding yard.  Since I don't know anything else about the area (e.g., how much sunlight it gets, whether it is mostly dry or somewhat wet), you will need to check the characteristics of these plants against the characteristics of your site to be sure they are compatible.  All these plants are native to Orange County, Florida.


Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Aristida stricta (pineland threeawn)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)


Dyschoriste oblongifolia (oblongleaf snakeherb)

Licania michauxii (Gopher apple) and more photos and information

Mimosa strigillosa (powderpuff)

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (narrowleaf blue-eyed grass)

Zamia pumila (coontie) and photos and more information

FERNS (if your yard is in shade [less than 2 hours sun per day] or part shade [2 to 6 hours of sun perday])

Woodwardia virginica (Virginia chainfern) with photos and more information

Woodwardia areolata (netted chainfern)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Osmunda regalis (royal fern)

Here are a few representative photos of the plants listed above:

Andropogon virginicus

Aristida stricta

Dyschoriste oblongifolia

Mimosa strigillosa

Phyla nodiflora

Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Woodwardia areolata

Osmunda cinnamomea



More Erosion Control Questions

Difficult slope in Tarrytown NY
March 03, 2009 - I hope you can help. Is there a way to plant some native shrubs and plants on a steep slope that is filled in some areas with rock without having to tier the slope? The section is approximately 50' w...
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

Need plants to cover hillside and control erosion in Woodbine, Kentucky
September 18, 2009 - I live in eastern Kentucky. I have a hillside that is full of weeds how do I get rid of the weeds and what can I plant to cover it. This hillside is not walkable. Is there some kind of vine ? There is...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to stabilize a steep bank in Pennsylvania
April 23, 2008 - I would like to use native plantings to stabilize a steep bank of a septic leach field in eastern Pennsylvania. My purpose is to control erosion and to eliminate the need for mowing. What would you r...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop creek bank erosion in North Carolina
June 26, 2009 - Hi: I live in NC where most of the dirt is clay based. I have a small creek behind my house that is eroding. The creek overflows when there is a heavy rain and as a result, gradual erosion. My g...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center