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

Friday - July 03, 2009

From: Phenix City, AL
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop erosion in Alabama
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Our front yard is being washed down the street when we have rainstorms. It's been especially bad this year due to all the rain.What kinds of plants/grasses could we use to help stop the water from running down the hill taking our front yard with it? I thought about pampas grass but the reviews I've read pertain to California or Florida.


First of all, Mr. Smarty Plants would NOT recommend Cortaderia selloana (pampas grass) since it is native to Argentina and Brazil and not native to North America.  Additionally it appears on the Texas Invasives list, Weeds of California and Weeds of Hawaii.  What Mr. Smarty Plants would recommend are native grasses.  Grasses with their extensive fibrous root systems are very efficient at holding the soil.  Here are a few good ones that are attractive and native to Alabama:

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Aristida stricta (pineland threeawn)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

You will need to check the Growing Conditions for each species to be sure that they match the characteristics of your site.

You can find more choices by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database choosing Alabama from the Select State or Province category and 'Grass/Grass-like' from Habit (general appearance).  You can also make choices in the Light requirement and Soli moisture categories that match your site in order to narrow the list.

Andropogon virginicus

Aristida stricta

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans



More Erosion Control Questions

Native grasses for erosion control in the state of Washington
December 16, 2010 - Which native grasses do you suggest for maximum erosion control in my area?
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control in Bartlesville OK
May 10, 2012 - What kind of plants can we use to stop erosion and loss of bank on a creek that is mostly shaded? Is there any free advice/plants for people that are losing land due to water levels rising/dropping?
view the full question and answer

Low-growing plants for steep bank to prevent erosion
March 24, 2010 - We recently bought a house (6 months ago) in Memphis, TN that backs up to a concrete drainage ditch. There is a fairly steep, mostly shaded bank that leads from the flat section of the back yard to th...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen native plants for slope in South Carolina
July 14, 2008 - We would like to plant an evergreen garden in our backyard, which is on a slope. It receives the sun from approx 9-4. We have an above ground pool, and patio area. Would also like a recommendation of ...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistance and Erosion Control for St. Louis County MO
January 03, 2014 - I am looking for deer and rabbit resistant native plants for erosion control on a steep ravine slope with part sun and part shade in St. Louis County MO.
view the full question and answer

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