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 12, 2011

From: Bradford, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?

ANSWER:

I recommend a mixture of grasses, herbaceous plants and small shrubs.  Grasses are very effective at holding soil in place because of their extensive fibrous root systems, but covering your steep bank with one kind of grass only could be a bit boring. Monocultures are generally not the best idea so choosing two or more grasses and interspersing them with some herbaceous plants and small shrubs will give you an interesting and effective means of controlling the erosion.  Since you didn't say, I don't know the moisture and sun availability.  You need to check the "Growing Conditions" section for each species to see if the required environmental conditions are compatible with your site. The cheapest way to carry out your project is by sowing seeds. However, since you would be sowing the seeds on a slope, you will probably find that rain will wash the seeds away before they have had a chance to germinate. You might be able to find grass plugs or nursery plants available for sale. They will be more expensive than the seeds but would have a better chance of setting their roots before rain could wash them away. Another possibility is to use erosion control blankets to stabilize the erosion area. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediments to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. You can also insert plants into the soil by cutting through the matting. The roots of the plants that are growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem. 

 Grasses:

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Herbaceous plants and small shrubs:

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Phlox divaricata (Wild blue phlox)

Phlox subulata (Moss phlox)

 Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana artemisia)

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (Golden-hardhack)

 

From the Image Gallery


Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Virginia wildrye
Elymus virginicus

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Wild blue phlox
Phlox divaricata

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

Shrubby cinquefoil
Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

More Shrubs Questions

Mountain laurel planting over Frederickburg limestone
March 22, 2012 - We have rocky limestone shelves on our property. We want to plant a mountain laurel. Are the roots strong enough to break through the limestone or should we try to find another location? The limestone...
view the full question and answer

Dead or Dormant Chile Pequins in Corpus Christi
November 12, 2010 - We have 4 chile pequin and 5 chiltepin plants growing our yard. All were thriving beautifully until we took a 12-day vacation in late July. There was little rain during that time but overall this y...
view the full question and answer

Native shrubs for privacy hedge in Lockhart, TX
December 21, 2008 - I will be retiring from the US Army to Lockhart, Texas in March. We have a small house with a 6' security fence. I have always been an advocate of Hedges for security, sound dampening and wildlife ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native eleagnus from Jesup GA
January 17, 2014 - An elderly farmer has told me about a plant called Alley Agnes, but I can't find any plant by this name anywhere. He doesn't know another name for it, says it's what everyone has always called it i...
view the full question and answer

No berries on dogwoods in GA
November 18, 2010 - I have 4 native dogwood trees. I have owned the property for 4 years. They have never produced berries. Can you tell me why? are the trees male and female, and could I have all males?
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