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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - August 26, 2009

From: Charleston, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion control in Charleston WV
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Charleston, WV and just purchased a home that has a hill side out back that has some erosion occurring. I was wondering what would be the best ground cover to plant in my area to control the soil erosion? Editor's Note: After this question was answered and published, we received an additional question via e-mail: "Thank you for answering my question. I used the search tool that you suggested and found some grasses that should be beautiful around my house and seem to be able to remedy my problem! The hill side I have an erosion problem with is a pretty large area, roughly 200'x100', so would it be best if I used multiple types of grasses to control the erosion or should I just stick to one type of grass?" We have added our answer to the second question below.

ANSWER:

The best ground cover for erosion control in any area is grasses native to that area. These are not going to be the "mowing type" grasses, but taller, ornamental grasses. They can be cut back to about 6 inches in the Spring, and they are mostly self-propagating from both roots and self-seeding. The long fibrous roots of the grasses will grab onto the soil and keep it from eroding, and help to hold moisture and nutrition in the soil where it's needed. We will go to our Native Plant Database, go down to "Combination Search," search on West Virginia, and "Grasses or grasslike plants" under habit and then click on "Submit Combination Search." You didn't say if you had sun or shade on your slope, so we will select some grasses that would suit one or the other or both. We will also check to make sure these grasses are native in and around Kanawha County, so we know they are adapted to the soils and climate. You can use the same technique to make your own selections, possibly adding in Light Requirements or Soil Moisture in the specifications you select.

Answer to second question: Oh, absolutely, more than one variety. The last thing you want is a monoculture, I don't care of what. You would get a variety in textures, colors, even between the deciduous and the evergreen, The first one from our original list we would recommend is the Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats). I'm always happy when I'm doing a grass question (usually an erosion question) and inland sea oats happens to grow in the area where the customer gardens. But I sure would go also with the Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) with those great plumes, the Hordeum jubatum (foxtail barley) with the foxtails, and at least one of the bluestems, or maybe both Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) and Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) for height and verticality. How neat to have that much space to put all those gorgeous grasses in. It's nice to hear from a satisfied customer on that kind of question.

Grasses for Erosion Control in Charleston WV

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) - 4 to 8 ft. tall, warm season perennial bunchgrass, medium water use, sun or part shade

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge) - perennial sedge, 2 to 3 ft. tall, medium water use, sun

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - 2 to 4 ft., clump-forming perennial, medium water use, part shade or shade

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) - cool-season grass, 2 to 4 ft. tall, medium water use, sun or part shade

Elymus villosus (hairy wildrye) - 3 to 6 ft. tall

Hordeum jubatum (foxtail barley) - 1 to 3 ft. tall, perennial

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) - 1 to 3 ft. perennial, part shade or shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - 15 to 24 inches tall, low water use, sun or part shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery


Andropogon gerardii

Carex stipata

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Elymus villosus

Hordeum jubatum

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Limiting erosion around pond from Brooklyn Park MN
May 20, 2013 - Minnesota resident, wants to find plant limit erosion from pond?
view the full question and answer

Preventing Soil Erosion in Elgin, Texas
June 06, 2011 - I live in Elgin,TX and our property is basically a slope with dense oak and cedar trees on the back of the property. The soil is sandy loam. What type of native plants or grasses can I plant to stop...
view the full question and answer

Can Carolina wild petunia be planted over septic tank in Nokomis FL
July 10, 2011 - Could you tell me the root depth of the Ruellia caroliniensis/ Carolina wild petunia? Trying to determine if I can plant it over septic tank.
view the full question and answer

Native plants for erosion control in North Carolina
January 29, 2009 - I have an area on the north side of my house that is a hill with about a 6:1 slope. It also has a set of steps used to get from the front of the yard to the rear yard. It is very shaded. I am havin...
view the full question and answer

Need recommendations for native plants on a dry sunny hillside in Baltimore Maryland.
July 28, 2009 - Need native recommendations for sunny, dry hillside for ground cover or shrub in Maryland. Mowing the grass is a pain and an energy waster (and I don't want to be tempted to extend some adjacent exi...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center