En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - June 27, 2010

From: East Syracuse, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a steep slope in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We just installed a swimming pool in our back yard, which is at the top of a south facing slope. After the pool was installed the slope is now 3 ft higher and very steep (unmowable). I'd guess steeper than a 45 degree angle. The over all area is about 45 ft wide and 12 ft high. The area was back filled with a gravely dirt mixture to ease the slope. And we will soon be adding topsoil on top of that. We'd like to plant the area with a variety of native plants, grasses and shrubs to avoid any erosion. Do you have any suggestions? Thank You.

ANSWER:

With your steep slope and with new loose top soil, it sounds as if you would benefit from using some sort of 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 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.  Most nurseries carry these erosion control blankets.

Let's start with grasses since the extensive fibrous roots of grasses are very effective in holding soil in place.  Here are some native New York grasses that should do well:

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

You can add other plants to the grasses, but since I don't know how much sunlight you have on your slope and how much moisture there is in the soil, I can only make general suggestions.  You should check the GROWING CONDITIONS for each recommended plant to be sure that they match the conditions at your site. Here are some plants that grow in or adjacent to Onondaga County, New York that would be suitable to add to the slope.

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Actaea rubra (red baneberry)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Sibbaldiopsis tridentata (shrubby fivefingers)

You can find other possibilities on our New York Recommended page.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Andropogon virginicus

Bromus kalmii

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Deschampsia cespitosa

Elymus canadensis

Eragrostis spectabilis

Hypericum prolificum

Actaea rubra

Ceanothus americanus

Lupinus perennis

Monarda didyma

Monarda fistulosa

Sibbaldiopsis tridentata

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Identification of bush/vine with purple berries
August 09, 2014 - I was clearing fence line and came across this plant it looks like a Bush but underneath grows like a vine it has long broad leaves that reminded me of Polk salad but it grows berry clusters the berri...
view the full question and answer

Windbreaks for Monterey County, CA
May 31, 2013 - I am trying to find good wind breakers for Monterey County area, very windy in the valley.
view the full question and answer

Problems with blueberries from Kernersville NC
April 29, 2012 - My blueberry plants have no leaves or scrawny ones. I have 13 plants, 5 of them are like this.
view the full question and answer

Foundation Plants for Leander, TX
June 05, 2015 - Looking for suggestions for a narrow bed 2-3 ft. wide, 32 ft. long against my house. Full evening sun with morning shade. Considering Salvia greggii with some type of companion plants/grasses ...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center