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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 21, 2011

From: Ipava, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control in IL
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Steep 40ft slope in rural Illinois with Sandy soil. Recently several trees slid down this slope due to wet conditions. We need any inexpensive plants to hold the hillside in check before erosion creeps and causes cabin damage.

ANSWER:

Your best bet are ornamental grasses.  Their fibrous root systems make them drought tolerant (a necessity in the quick draining, sandy conditions you describe) and help them hold the soil.  There are also a number of native prairie wildflowers that fit the bill and will help transfrm your slope from a liability to a native meadow planting that is not only pretty to look at, but provides wildlife habitat as well.

You can generate lists of native plants by visiting our Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search. Select: Illinois/grasses(or herbaceous plants) and the light and soil conditions.  I suspect that even though you had a slide due to wet conditions, once you have the slope stablilized the conditions will actually be dry due to rapid drainage from the steep slope and sandy soil.

You will ultimately be limited by what plants are available in the nurseries but here are some plants from those lists we think will work for you:

Grasses

Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass)

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Perennials (wildflowers)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Centaurea americana (American basket-flower)

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)


Ammophila breviligulata

Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon glomeratus

Calamagrostis canadensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Panicum virgatum

 

Aquilegia canadensis

Centaurea americana

Coreopsis lanceolata

 

Liatris aspera var. intermedia

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca

Rudbeckia hirta


Solidago canadensis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for a steep bank in Virginia
June 23, 2009 - I have a small yard with a 3 foot steep bank that I want to plant on. I am looking for fast growing ground cover. There is some shade but not a lot and has a southern exposure. Ground is a bit roug...
view the full question and answer

Removing Texas cedar Juniperus ashei from Blanco River banks
February 26, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Should cedar trees be removed from our Blanco River banks to prevent them from sucking too much of our precious water before it makes it into the river system? If so, what s...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a slope in MD
August 04, 2011 - Looking for a groundcover to hold a shady slope undercut with tree roots in Maryland and to prevent further erosion.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a property near a conservation area in MD
July 18, 2011 - Can you tell me what native plants and the type of landscaping that would be good to plant in front of a forest conservation area that is on a steep hill behind our future house? It is located in Manc...
view the full question and answer

Restoring tornado-damaged property in Alexander City AL
January 29, 2012 - Dear Mr Smartypants, We were struck by the outbreak of tornadoes last spring and our wonderful woods are now unsightly sloping pastures with erosion problems.. many stumps and coils of roots. We are...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center