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Monday - May 17, 2010

From: Cumming, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control in Georgia
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Hello, I have a question regarding water run-off coming from the neighbors yard as my yard is below their yard. What kind of ground cover would grow very quickly (low to ground) to help with the run-off and erosion control. I am in zone 7 (North East Atlanta) and my lot is somewhat woody. This area will have some sun to partial shade. I have looked at Blue Pacific Juniper's as a possibility. Suggestions?


The issue of stormwater runoff and erosion from a neighbor's property can be a delicate one.  In most communities there are bylaws stating that you must prevent runoff onto adjacent property, but bringing up the subject can be uncomfortable.

If you have a good relationship with your neighbour you may be able to shape the land on both properties anough to create a series of rain gardens. Simply put, a rain garden is a depression in the garden that slows down the flow of water, allowing it to infiltrate the soil instead of allowing it to rush downhill carriying topsoil and pollutants with it.  The depression is planted with plants that are adapted to conditions alternating between very wet and very dry. You will find a very comprehension publication about rain gardens, along with instructions and plant lists published by the Clean Water Campaign in Atlanta by following this link. Clean Water Atlanta also has a publication and a suggested plant list.

If the project is too daunting, at the very least you will want to do some planting to prevent further erosion.  You are looking for plants with a fibrous root system and/or that spread by underground runners. Because you say your property is woody, the soil may be dry.  You can search our Native Plant Database for suitable plants by doing a Combination Search for Georgia and then selecting the light and moisture conditions on your site.  You can search for herbaceous plants, shrubs and grasses separately. The lists the database generates have links to detailed information pages about each plant where you can read about its root system and how rapidly each plant spreads.  Grasses are ideal plants for these conditions, but you may find most of them to be taller than you want.

Here are a few suggestions selected from those lists:


Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Glandularia bipinnatifida (Dakota mock vervain)

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Polygonatum biflorum (smooth Solomon's seal)

Rubus trivialis (southern dewberry)

Tradescantia ohiensis (bluejacket)

Small shrubs

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Asclepias tuberosa

Glandularia bipinnatifida

Mitchella repens

Monarda fistulosa

Polygonatum biflorum

Rubus trivialis

Tradescantia ohiensis

Comptonia peregrina

Gaultheria procumbens

Hypericum prolificum





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