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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 - June 23, 2009

From: Asheville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native grass and/or wildflower seed mix for erosion control in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a native grass and/or wildflower seed mix to control erosion on a new mountain road in a pine forest (red clay dirt). The soil is dry and partly shaded, depending on the hour of the day.

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for controlling erosion because of their extensive fibrous root systems. To find suitable grasses you can do your own search in our Native Plant Database using the COMBINATION SEARCH option and choosing North Carolina from the map or pull-down menu, 'Grass/Grass-like' from Habit (general appearance), 'Part shade' from Light requirement and 'Dry' from Soil moisture.  This will give you a list of more than 20 grasses that meet most of the criteria for your site.  As you look at each of the pages for the grasses, you can find a description of the soil that these grasses require under the heading of Growing Conditions.  Here are some suggestions from that list:

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Muhlenbergia emersleyi (bullgrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens)

You can add various wildflowers to the mix by doing a similar search to the one above substituting 'Herb' for 'Grass/Grass-like' or you can go to our Recommended Species page and choose North Carolina from the map or pull-down menu to get a list of more than 130 commercially available native plants for landscaping in the state (this particular list doesn't include grasses).  You can then use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to select for General Appearance, Light Requirement and Soil Moisture.  Here are a few sugggestions for wildflowers from that list:

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Monarda citriodora (lemon beebalm)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)


Eragrostis intermedia

Muhlenbergia emersleyi

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Tridens flavus

Achillea millefolium

Coreopsis lanceolata

Monarda citriodora

Rudbeckia hirta

 

 

 

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