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

Monday - November 23, 2009

From: West Mifflin, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control in West Mifflin PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have recently had a retaining wall rebuilt in my back yard and an above the ground pool installed. My lawn is uneven with no grass and the hillside is very dry dirt with rocks. What type of plant would be low growing, stop erosion and cover the hillside quickly? The area is not large, perhaps 40 ft. long and 10 ft. high. Should I plant grass seed now (Nov, 2009) or wait until spring 2010?

ANSWER:

The best plants for controlling erosion are native grasses. We wouldn't recommend planting grass seed now; they will not germinate until warm weather returns anyway, and some could easily be lost in winter rains (which we understand comes out as snow in Pennsylvania) or become not viable. The long fibrous roots of grasses will hold the soil, many are perennial and/or self-seeding. Natives will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance.

You also might consider doing something like a small-scale meadow arrangement, with some colorful wildflowers mixed in. First, read two of our How-To Articles, Native Lawns and Meadow Gardening.  If you have weather that permits playing outside, you can begin, in advance of Spring, to prepare the area as suggested in both articles. Some of the grasses we are going to suggest will be taller, others compact and low. You can mix them for an attractive visual effect, and have something pleasant to look at virtually year round.

Finally, for your hillside, there are some low-growing attractive shrubs native to Pennsylvania, some of which are evergreen, that will give some more color and erosion protection. 

We are going to go to our Native Plant Database and give you some suggestions of herbaceous blooming plants, shrubs and grasses native to Pennsylvania that can be combined however you wish for your purposes. 

Follow each link to the page on that plant for particulars on height, sun requirements and soil moisture. Since we don't know how much sun your area has, you can go back to the database and search using Light Requirements, Soil Moisture and so forth, making your own choices.

Native herbaceous blooming plants for Pennsylvania:

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Native shrubs for Pennsylvania: 

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Native grasses for Pennsylvania: 

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Asclepias tuberosa

Coreopsis lanceolata

Lupinus perennis

Monarda didyma

Phlox stolonifera

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Epigaea repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Andropogon gerardii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Carex blanda

Carex texensis

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Removing Texas cedar Juniperus ashei from Blanco River banks
February 26, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Should cedar trees be removed from our Blanco River banks to prevent them from sucking too much of our precious water before it makes it into the river system? If so, what s...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in shade in Iowa
July 02, 2010 - I work for a small non-profit shelter here in Dubuque, Ia. that has a very steep slope behind the building that needs some sort of plant or grass planted to stop erosion. The slope gets little to no s...
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

Plants for erosion control along creek that often floods
May 26, 2010 - What would be good ground cover to plant along the bank of a storm creek and the river it runs into? Previous owner killed all the poison oak and garlic mustard all over the yard, but whatever he trie...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center