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?


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

Tuesday - June 20, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Use of native grasses as erosion control in Austin, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We're in Austin, TX and trying to keep our neighborhood lot as natural as possible; however, our lot is eroding and depositing mud and dirt onto the sidewalk whenever it rains. We're looking for an attractive, natural solution to slow or stop the erosion process. We've added some mulch to the area which seems to help and are considering a barrier of some kind. Thanks


Grasses are very effective against erosion because of their dense root systems. If your lot is sunny, you might consider putting in Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). It requires very little water and very little mowing. It can be started by seed, by sods, or by plugs. You can find more information about planting buffalo grass in the article "Native Lawns" in our Native Plant Library.

There are several grasses that are more ornamental in appearance that would also be effective. These are:
Gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Sun.
Lindheimer's muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri) Sun, part shade.
Inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) Part shade. This one does well in the shade.

Sedges, such as Meadow sedge (Carex perdentata) would also work in sun and part shade.

You might also consider planting one of the small perennial shrubs that are drought tolerant and would add some color, such as:
Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides) Sun.
Zexmenia (Wedelia texana) Sun, part shade.
Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) Sun.

You can find nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Austin area in our National Suppliers Directory.

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to prevent bank erosion in Virginia
April 02, 2009 - I am looking for good native plant choices for a steep river bank. My driveway is at the top of this slope, so I will need to avoid any plants that would cause erosion. I would prefer low shrubs.
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in Virginia
October 24, 2008 - Please help! Looking for landscaping ideas for a very large Steep hill. Features: slope is approximately 45-60 degrees, clay soil mixed with fill dirt, lots of deer, partial sun, seeking minimal maint...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Maryland Slope in Deer Country
July 03, 2016 - I have a 20-30% grade hill in Maryland. I am looking for a groundcover plant (for example ivy) that I can plant on the hill. I have the following issues: clay soil, deer, full sun, limited water sourc...
view the full question and answer

Raingarden Plants for Brownsville, TX
March 14, 2014 - I'm a Landscape Architect in South Texas and I'm implementing raingardens and vegetated swales in my projects. What native plants could be used in these gardens/water runways. They would need to res...
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a lakeside slope from Bracey, VA
May 24, 2012 - We are trying to beautify and stabilize a relatively large lakeside steep slope with a southern exposure in central Virginia. The soil is characterized by red clay and shale rock. How can we turn this...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center