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

Tuesday - July 05, 2011

From: Blanchard, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants to stop erosion on creek side
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need plants for a westside slope to a creek that will help with erosion, need fast growing and likes lots of sun. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for erosion control because of their extensive fibrous root system that tend to hold the soil in place.   Here are some suggestions for grasses:

Height—about 3 feet or less

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie junegrass)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Pascopyrum smithii (Western wheatgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Height—3 to 8 feet

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

 Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

All of the above grasses will grow from seeds and, although earlier in the year would have been a better time to plant, you should be able to get them to sprout and grow now—providing, of course, that you give them plenty of water.  Native American Seeds has an article, Planting Tips for Native Grasses, that has useful information for getting your grasses established. You don't say how steep the slope is that you are trying to stabilize, but if it is very steep you might want to consider using some sort of erosion control mat or blanket called rolled erosion control products (RECPs).  They help stabilize the area until the grass can take over that function.   You sow the seeds under the blanket and they grow up through it.   Sowing the seeds under the blanket also keeps them from washing away in the rain or during the irrigation of the area.  Many of them are made of biodegradable material that eventually decomposes.  Many nurseries carry some form of these.

Here are some other plants to intersperse in the grasses that can help stabilize the slope:

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower)

Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Phlox pilosa (Downy phlox)

Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana artemisia)

You can search in our National Suppliers Directory for seed companies that specialize in native plants in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Prairie junegrass
Koeleria macrantha

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Western wheatgrass
Pascopyrum smithii

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

Lemon beebalm
Monarda citriodora

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for farm animals from East Greenwich RI
May 03, 2014 - What type of perennial flowers and shrubs are safe to plant around farm animals (dogs, horses, chickens, turkeys) in New England climate?
view the full question and answer

Need native plants to place in chicken coop in Charolette, NC
September 20, 2014 - Hi, I live near Charlotte, NC. I'm looking for native plants that I can plant in my chicken coop that will produce food for the chickens. If they also produced some delicious food for me, I wouldn't...
view the full question and answer

Prairie and wetland restoration in Nebraska
July 20, 2007 - We recently bought property south of Crawford,NE near the Pine Ridge area. It has been grazed by horses for years. We'd like to restore the native grasses and flowers. I have no idea where to begi...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover Under Maple Tree in Ottawa That Takes Foot Traffic
April 19, 2013 - Hi, I am looking for a groundcover to put under a large maple tree that will be alright for kids to run about on and will be happy in the Ottawa climate. Your other answers to similar questions have b...
view the full question and answer

Dividing Gulf muhly in Leander TX
October 16, 2010 - I purchased a 1-gallon pot of Gulf Muhly (muhlenbergia capillaris) and am wondering if I can divide the clump in order to make my purchase go further. And, regarding that method of propagation, could...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center