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 Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native moss to fill in between flagstones
April 21, 2008 - I live in Houston and have a long, narrow flagstone path that runs along the east side of the house. I am looking for a native moss that can fill in between the flagstones and will tolerate morning su...
view the full question and answer

Giant Thistle-Like Plant from Elgin, TX
June 01, 2014 - I have a giant thistle like plant in my field we have been unable to identify. It looks like a milk thistle but it is short..only about a foot tall..stocky...and the flowers are giant..about 6 to 8 i...
view the full question and answer

Alternative to swamp sunflower for Austin
June 15, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I love this forum and have learned so much from it! Do you know of an alternative to Helianthus angustifolius L. (Swamp sunflower) that requires less water and would be m...
view the full question and answer

Removal of thistles from Columbus TX
May 20, 2014 - I am sorry if you have an answer in FAQs but I could not find it. We recently cleared property near Columbus Texas of many cedars (ash junipers). This spring we experienced a profusion of thistle -...
view the full question and answer

Dividing non-native daffodils from Austin
April 15, 2012 - The foliage on my daffodils is lush and healthy, but I have no blooms. Should I divide them?
view the full question and answer

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