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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - April 20, 2011

From: Rocky River, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plants for a windbreak on a slope in OH
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Have property at the top of a valley with a steep drop off. Would like to know native to NE Ohio ground covers, grasses perennials, and not too tall trees for windbreak that will prevent erosion. The site is windy half of the area is sunny, the other half shady.


You will find some really helpful information in this publication by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It is very comprehensive and will guide you with planning and execution.  It also has plant recommendations for trees and shrubs, though not all are actually native Ohio plants. For more information about each plant you can visit our Native Plant Database.

There are no recommendations for herbaceous plants however, which can be excellent for erosion control. Grasses, with their fibrous root systems are especially good at holding a slope, as well as many of the  prairie wildflowers that are native to Ohio.  You can generate lists of plants by doing a Combination Seach on the database selecting: Ohio/plant type (grass or herbaceous plant)/and your light and soil conditions (depending on the location in the windbreak). Each plant name on the list is linked to a detailed information page.

Some recommendations from those lists are:


Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

 Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Liatris aspera var. intermedia (Intermediate rough gayfeather)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (Narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod)


From the Image Gallery

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

American basket-flower
Centaurea americana

Lanceleaf coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Intermediate rough gayfeather
Liatris aspera var. intermedia

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Narrowleaf evening-primrose
Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca

Canada goldenrod
Solidago canadensis

More Shrubs Questions

Problems with Eves necklacepods (Styphnolobium affine)
March 25, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I urgently need your advice regarding two Eve's necklacepods that appear to be dying. They are in two completely different areas of my yard. One began leafing out and then the leaves sh...
view the full question and answer

Could lilacs grow in Georgia?
April 27, 2010 - Hi Mr Smarty Pants, First off, I want to commend you on your promotion of native plants. I am passionately anti-invasive plants (in fact, it was the subject of my master's thesis). That being said...
view the full question and answer

Dog-safe Privacy Screen for Ocala, FL
June 25, 2015 - Am desperately searching for fast growing privacy that would be non toxic to dogs in Ocala, Florida (zone 9 I think). Wanted Leland cypress but due to toxicity it won't work.
view the full question and answer

Trimming a rock rose in Richardson TX
March 11, 2009 - I have a Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)in my garden. I cannot find any information on how to trim or whether I should trim this plant. If so when? Mine is pretty much growing all over the place and...
view the full question and answer

Trees and shrubs for adobe soil in Penngrove CA
June 19, 2010 - Hi, I'd like to find a list of trees that are native, drought tolerant and suitable to the adobe soil in Penngrove. We will be landscaping a bare .5 acre parcel starting later this fall. Another fea...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center