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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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

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