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

Monday - November 07, 2011

From: Charlotte, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a lakeside bank in NC
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Our association is looking to plant a huge sloped area that runs down to Lake Wylie. We want to plant something that is good for erosion and that does not grow too tall so that we keep our view of the lake from our homes. We could use shorter plants at the top of the slope and taller ones nearer the bottom.

ANSWER:

Without a doubt, native grasses are the best choice for your lakeside planting project.  Their fibrous root systems will hold the slope (even a sandy one) and they are drought tolerant.  Even though you are planting beside water, the soil conditions except for right at the water's edge, will tend to be dry because of the slope and the quick draining, sandy soil.  You don't mention what direction the slope is facing, but your conditions are likely sunny, regardless. Again, grasses are ideal as their form is very evocative of a natural beach planting and they are very attractive when lit by the sun and flowing in the breeze.

These grasses should do well in your situation:

Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass) (be careful with this one ... it is a vigorous spreader, but you did say your area is huge)

Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)

and these will thrive in the wet conditions at the water's edge:

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint)

Eleocharis montevidensis (Sand spikerush)

Juncus effusus (Common rush)

Typha latifolia (Broadleaf cattail)

You should be able to create quite a dramatic planting using large drifts of these grasses with native wildflowers mixed in.  You can choose from a list of wildflowers generated by our Native Plant Database.  Do a Combination Search for North Carolina selecting herbs (herbaceous plants) and sunny and dry conditions (or wet for plants at the edge or in the water).  You can also narrow the search by plant size, bloom time and bloom color.  If you decide you would like to include shrubs in the planting, you can create another list, selecting shrubs (or subshrubs, which are smaller). 

The more diverse your planting is, the more appealling it will be as wildlife habitat, so it will come alive with birds, butterflies, dragonflies and all sorts of critters.  You will also be delighted to hear that planting taller plants right at the shoreline will discourage Canada Geese from making your lake their winter home!

 

From the Image Gallery


American beach grass
Ammophila breviligulata

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Bluejoint
Calamagrostis canadensis

Sand spikerush
Eleocharis montevidensis

Common rush
Juncus effusus

Broadleaf cattail
Typha latifolia

More Shrubs Questions

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Foundation Plants for South Carolina
November 07, 2009 - What native plants are suitable as foundation plantings? My soil is heavy clayey loam with red clay subsoil. I live in Charleston County.
view the full question and answer

Garden instructions from Austin
June 12, 2013 - I'm a beginning gardener putting in some new landscaping in my front yard in north central Austin, TX. The yard faces almost due east, so it gets full sun until early afternoon, when the house's sha...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lilacs for Salt Lake City, UT
April 15, 2012 - Is the weather in Salt Lake City UT good enough to plant a lilac bush root? If not, how long should I wait?
view the full question and answer

Native plants for restoring a North Carolina pond site
April 12, 2011 - I reconstructed the dam to a 50 year old cattle pond at our high-end residential development in Charlotte, NC. There are many large mature trees around the pond but also some good sun exposure at two ...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center