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

Friday - September 23, 2011

From: Cambridge, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that will stabilize the slope and be attractive as well. The slope is between 3:1 and 2:1. Many thanks.

ANSWER:

Grasses are a good place to start because their fibrous root system holds the soil effectively.  Here are some that grow in Middlesex County in sand and sun:

Bromus kalmii (Arctic brome)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) is not technically a grass, but closely related.  This one is evergreen.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) is another sedge that should work well.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple lovegrass)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Sporobolus cryptandrus (Sand dropseed) and here are photos and more information.

A combination of some of the grasses above, mixing those of various heights and textures, with some of the following shrublike plants to give color and variety should be an attractive solution to your problem.

Artemisia frigida (Prairie sagewort)

Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana artemisia)

Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow)

Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly-everlasting)

Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine)

 

From the Image Gallery


Arctic brome
Bromus kalmii

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Purple lovegrass
Eragrostis spectabilis

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Prairie sagewort
Artemisia frigida

Louisiana artemisia
Artemisia ludoviciana

Common yarrow
Achillea millefolium

Western pearly everlasting
Anaphalis margaritacea

Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Does a cenizo really predict rain in Austin?
July 18, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, folklore has it that the flowering of Cenizo (aka Barometer Bush) is a predictor of rain fall. The Cenizo in South Austin is blooming profusely right now. Does this portend a Noac...
view the full question and answer

Clover in grass in Marysville WA
March 05, 2009 - I noticed clover growing in my grass and know that this is a sign of poor nitrogen in my soil. I would like to know of some native plants / shrubs that I could put near my house in Washington that ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover that won't hide snakes from Asheville NC
June 29, 2012 - I have an unusual situation: several bare areas in an otherwise wooded area, which receive partial sun, and are not near water -- it rains here frequently, but the soil can become quite dry at times. ...
view the full question and answer

Nightflowering plants native to Northern Illinois
October 12, 2010 - Looking for any/all info on night flowering plants that are native to Northern Illinois.
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
March 26, 2013 - I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have...
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center