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
2 ratings

Friday - November 27, 2009

From: Bowie, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop erosion on sandy slope in north central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have severe erosion problems that lead to a deep ravine. There are deer in the area and the soil is sandy on a slope. What would be the best long term solution to stop or control this erosion. The area is north central Texas. Thank you

ANSWER:

Grasses and sedges are excellent choices for erosion control.  Their extensive fibrous roots will help to hold the sandy soil in place.  Additionally, deer do not normally feed on grasses and sedges.  You will need to read the "Growing Conditions" for each species recommended below to see if their requirements for light, moisture and soil type match the conditions at your site.  Here are some suggestions for grasses native to your area:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) 4 to 8 feet tall and grows in sun (6 hours or more of sun per day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day).

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) 2 to 3 feet and grows in sun or part shade.

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) 3 to 12 inches and does very well in sun but not very well in part shade or shade (less than 2 hours sun per day).

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) 12-14 inches and, like buffalograss, prefers full sun.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) 2 to 4 feet and grows in part shade or shade.

Muhlenbergia reverchonii (seep muhly) 2 to 3.5 feet and grows best in sun.

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) 3 to 6 feet and grows in sun or part shade.

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass) 1 to 1.5 feet and grows in sun or part shade.

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) 1.5 to 3 feet and grows in sun or part shade.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) 3 to 8 feet and grows in sun, part shade or shade.

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass) 2 to 3 feet but can reach 10 feet and grows best in part shade.

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) grows to 12 inches and in sun, part shade, or shade.

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge) 12 to 18 inches and grows in part shade.

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge) grows to 12 inches and grows in part shade.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) 10 to 12 inches and grows in sun and part shade.

Although you are not creating a meadow or a lawn, "Meadow Gardening" and "Native Lawns" in our HOW TO ARTICLES have useful hints for planting and maintaining native grasses.  You can also include some wildflowers with your grass species in your planting but the grasses should be predominant for the best erosion control.  You can see a variety of wildflowers for your area in our Texas-North Central Recommended list and you can check our National Suppliers Directory for seed companies and nurseries that specialize in native plants near you.

I don't know how large an area you need to cover.  If it is small you might be able to use grass plugs.  However, if it is a large area, seeds may be a better solution.  Since you indicate that the slope is steep you might consider using an erosion control blanket.  The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediments to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. You can also insert plants into the soil by cutting through the matting. The roots of the plants that are growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.  Many nurseries carry this erosion control fabric. 

Here are a few selected photos from our Image Gallery of the grasses and sedges listed above:


Andropogon gerardii

Bouteloua dactyloides

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Carex blanda

Carex cherokeensis

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent bank erosion in Virginia
April 02, 2009 - I am looking for good native plant choices for a steep river bank. My driveway is at the top of this slope, so I will need to avoid any plants that would cause erosion. I would prefer low shrubs.
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Non-allergenic landscape in Fairfield, CT
April 18, 2009 - I live in Fairfield, CT and need to have a non-allergenic landscape. Can you please list plants, ground covers, and trees/shrubs that would be beautiful, and help in this critical situation? The lan...
view the full question and answer

Erosion for check dam in San Antonio
February 13, 2009 - What are the best trees for a shallow soil wind break in San Antonio? I am building a check dam (maybe 2' deep by 20' wide tall) over a shallow limestone gully to slow the erosion. the gully drai...
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