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?

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

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

Monday - July 18, 2011

From: Manchester, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a property near a conservation area in MD
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

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 Manchester, MD.

ANSWER:

We are really delighted to see new homeowners concerned about the impact their landscape will have on an adjacent natural area. The best thing you can do is take cues from nature. Spend the season exploring in the conservation area with field guides identifying plants.  Look at how nature arranges the plants.

You can learn more about what plants are native to your area by visiting out Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search for Maryland.  You can create lists of plants that are linked to detailed information pages.  You can also check the Recommended Species for Maryland for a list of plants that are known to be readily available in the nursery trade and suitable for a home garden setting.

Check out the website of the Maryland Native Plant Society and consider joining a local chapter. The people you meet will be a great resource as you embark on the project.  Their website has a wealth of information including a list of Native Plant Nurseries. We also have nurseries affiliated with the Wildflower Center that you can find on our Suppliers page.

When you get to the stage of planning and planting on the slope you will want to consider using shrubs and perennials that spread by stolons and native ornamental grasses whose fibrous root systems are particularly adept at stabilizing a slope.

The organization that maintains your conservation area probably has plant lists and plenty of advice as well.  Before you plant, you would be well advised to check with them that you are choosing plants that will not spread into their area and displace the delicate plant communities they are trying to protect.

Here are a few plants we think might be suitable:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweet fern)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Sweet-fern
Comptonia peregrina

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

More Erosion Control Questions

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
view the full question and answer

Hurricane Ivan damage from Pace FL
January 31, 2010 - My yard on Escambia Bay in NW Florida was stripped of good plants and topsoil by a 4 foot tidal surge in Hurricane Ivan. I have made some plantings, but am just now getting the entire property cleare...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping for slope in Kansas City
October 08, 2008 - We have a down sloping back yard and patio on the lower area. We need some water absorbing plants near the foundation and some in the front of the house, where water isn't a problem. We are allergic ...
view the full question and answer

Native Streambank Plants for SE Pennsylvania
July 18, 2013 - I help manage a nature preserve in southeastern Pennsylvania. Along the stream the banks have been beaten down by a large number of visitors for their educational activities such as stream studies. Th...
view the full question and answer

slope stabilization in Massachusetts
January 09, 2012 - My family and I recently put in a 120 x 100 horseback riding ring. It had to be built up in the back and, as a result, there is a 10 foot slope which could use stabilization. What plants native to Mas...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center