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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.

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Friday - July 03, 2009

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 

 

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