Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Plant Lists Questions

Landscaping with water garden from Pendleton SC
August 15, 2012 - Searching for native plants in SC. Your results miss some plants listed on your site. I noticed this reading the Mr. Smarty Plants response to "Edible Plants for North GA" We aren't far apart. ...
view the full question and answer

Removing St. Augustine for natives in Grapevine TX
September 29, 2012 - We have St Augustine in our yard and we hate it. It guzzles water, we have to cut it often, and it's thick and hard to work with. Anyway, we want to replace it with a combination of some kind of g...
view the full question and answer

New York City Native Perennials for a Long Growing Season
May 31, 2013 - Which native New York City perennials would be best for the longest growing season?
view the full question and answer

Native vegetation of Burbank, CA
April 04, 2012 - What is the native vegetation of Burbank, CA?
view the full question and answer

Trees suited for rocky, caliche soil of Central Texas
September 20, 2011 - I need to replace aging ashes. I have planted 2 Monterey oaks, but I would like to know what else I could plant whose roots will grow well in NW Austin caliche, rocky soil? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.