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

Saturday - November 27, 2010

From: Atlanta, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils, Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Erosion control on partially shaded slope
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Atlanta, GA. My house is on a hill, and I am beginning to have erosion at my backyard porch (concrete slab, on the corners especially). The soil is mainly red clay, and it washes away rather vigorously during heavy rains, exposing more of the concrete each time. I am looking for an attractive plant/shrub or grass, as it is our sitting area, that I can plant (partial shade) to prevent this. I do have some moss growing and am not sure if that will help with erosion control. Please help as I am afraid that my slab will crack eventually. Thank you David

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants can suggest several plants that will form mats and control erosion. But before planting anything it would be desirable to amend your red clay soil with peat moss and good compost to provide nutrients and water-holding capacity. If you prefer low-growing species, you might consider Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge) or Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry). These native perennials prefer a rather shady site but should do well in your partial shade if kept fairly moist. They will prosper most if shaded during midday. Another possibility is Phlox subulata (Moss phlox), which can tolerate more sun. These and more suggestions are mentioned at the Georgia Native Plant Society web site.

Ferns can prevent erosion too. A good choice for partial shade would be Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern), which, like the other species mentioned above, is evergreen. Grasses can be effective in erosion control. Uniola paniculata (Sea oats) is a common plant on coastal sand dunes but can be grown inland in full or partial sun, producing a flowering spike about three feet high. If you would prefer a somewhat smaller grass, you might consider Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats). This very attractive grass forms unusual flat seeds on heads rising to about two feet. It does well in shade or partial shade. Both the recommended grasses are perennials, but the vegetative parts die back in winter.

To view more information on the choices suggested, click on the scientific name of the plant in the text above. Attached below are representative images of the recommended species.

 

From the Image Gallery


Allegheny spurge
Pachysandra procumbens

Partridgeberry
Mitchella repens

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Sea oats
Uniola paniculata

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

More Ferns Questions

Pool-side ornamentals for south Louisiana
May 07, 2012 - We live in south Louisiana and are re-doing the plants around our pool. What are some low maintenance, small shrubs (flowering) or other ornamentals that would be good in this area?
view the full question and answer

Plants for streambank area in Oregon
September 14, 2012 - I am ready to replant a streambank area with native plants..what do you recommend for the Willamette Valley in Oregon? Thanks much!
view the full question and answer

Evergreen plant to cover parents' graves in Louisiana
June 30, 2013 - We want to plant ground cover on our parents graves in Plain Dealing Cemetery in north Bossier Parish LA. Soil is red clay/dirt. Want native plant, slow growing, short not tall plant, that might sta...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Tropical looking plants for pool area in California
November 14, 2008 - I am looking for small tropical looking plants, groundcover, and 2-small trees for around my pool. They have to be non-toxic to dogs,cats, and people. They can't attract bees/wasps, or have a root ...
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