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

Rocky Stream Bank Plants for Dallas, TX
July 02, 2015 - Need live stake shrubbery or tree ideas for a rocky stream bank prone to high water. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for moist, steep hillside in Tupelo MS
July 01, 2010 - I have a very steep bank that I have pampas grass planted in spots. It must be a natural spring in the bank because it stays very wet and runs into the street below. Can you suggest something to pla...
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

Need to stabilize a south facing slope in Henderson, NC
April 30, 2010 - Hi, I have a south facing slope that is heavy clay with rock under it. It gets a lot of sun. I have planted a few bushes and some ground cover, but with all the snow and rain we had this past winter, ...
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