En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Tuesday - July 14, 2009

From: Oak Ridge, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Looking for plants for erosion control in Tennessee.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We are looking for plants native to east Tenessee that will help control erosion once the kudzu in a ravine has been removed. The site is full sun with dry soil. Moderate to fast growth and resistance to deer would also be helpful, but not essential. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Marti Salk

ANSWER:

 Congratulations on getting rid of the Kudzu!

Generally, the best plants for erosion control are grasses. They have fibrous roots that can really grip the soil and keep it from washing away. These are not going to be turf grasses, and some of them grow several feet tall; the taller they are, the longer their roots are, thus the advantage.

There are warm season grasses and cool season grasses.  Warm season grasses germinate in the spring and, since they are heat and drought tolerant, are generally green throughout the spring and summer.  They  begin turning brown in the fall and remain so throughout the winter.  Cool season grasses germinate in the fall and are green and growing throughout the winter and spring, but die back in the heat of summer. 

Here are the names of three cool season grasses you might consider.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye), with more information from Native American Seed

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye), with more information from Native American Seed

Pascopyrum smithii (western wheatgrass) is another cool season native used extensively for erosion control.  

There are numerous warm season grasses for your Tennessee setting:

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

To  expand this list, go to the Native Plant Data Base page and scroll down to the Combination Search box. Select Tennessee for the State, "grass/grass-like" for Habit, perennial for Duration,  check sun for Light requirement and dry for Soil moisture. Click on the "Submit combination Search " button, and you will get a list of 20 plants that meet these criteria. Clicking on the name of each plant willtake you to its NPIN page which has information about its growth requirements as well as images.

You can read a paper, "The Use of Native Warm Season Grasses for Critical Area Stabilization" by C. F. Miller and J. A. Dickerson in the Proceedings of the 2nd Eastern Native Grass Symposium, Baltimore, MD Novermber 1999, describing the use of warm season grasses.

 


Elymus canadensis

Elymus virginicus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Panicum virgatum

 


Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Erosion control on 30-ft. berms in Manor, TX
February 06, 2009 - The Austin Rifle Club has recently re stacked its over 30ft high backstops. We know their will be erosion to these earthen berms. We need some suggestions on what to plant. Our club is a traini...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control plants for steep slope in Austin, TX
April 09, 2007 - I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. These plants would be in a park, and volunteers will be watering the pl...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for erosion control in Cataula GA
July 10, 2009 - I have several steep embankments on my property that are slowly eroding. What kind of plants (other than grasses, the area is not lawn mower accessible) can I plant to keep this from happening? We hav...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion on hills in Kansas
December 20, 2009 - I would like to plant some type of forage to stop the erosion on my hills & eliminate some of the mud in my turnout areas. It needs to be something that either horses won't eat or that can survive h...
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

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center