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 - January 09, 2012

From: Brookfield, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: slope stabilization in Massachusetts
Answered by: Anne Ruggles

QUESTION:

My family and I recently put in a 120 x 100 horseback riding ring. It had to be built up in the back and, as a result, there is a 10 foot slope which could use stabilization. What plants native to Massachusetts could we use to prevent erosion? The soil is a bit sandy. Thanks!

ANSWER:

What you plant will depend on how shaded or sunny the location is, how much moisture it gets, and when, etc. How you will plant will be informed by how steep the site is and how clean of vegetation it is. Grasses are the best erosion-control plants because their fibrous root systems hold the soil so well.  But there are also quite a few suitable forbs and shrubs as well. You will want to select those that spread via underground runners. Your plant choices will ultimately be limited by what you find in the nurseries but you can create a wish list by visiting our Native Plant database. By performing a Combination Search for Massachusetts and selecting dry and sun to part shade (or whatever your conditions are), you can generate lists of grasses, forbs, and shrubs that will do the job for you. The lists are linked back to detailed information pages with images.

1.  Here are several answers to similar questions about sites in Massachusetts answered on Mr. SmartyPlants. These all have links to photos and information about suggested plants.

a sloping partial shade site

a steep sunny site

a steep shady site

 

2.  The Master Gardeners of Mass. web site contains guidance for planting native plants on a slope. Planting A Slope: Tips and Plant Suggestions

 

3.  The Univ of Mass Agricultural extension service has this publication “Right Plant, Right Place” - A Plant Selection Guide for Managed Landscapes available. It will help you determine the type of site you have and what plants might be successful.

 

4.  New England Wetland Plants, Inc. supplies native seed mixes appropriate for a variety of site conditions ranging from wetland/hydric soils to drier more upland sites.

New England Erosion Control/Restoration Mix for Dry Sites

The New England Erosion Control/Restoration Mix For Dry Sites provides an appropriate selection of native and naturalized grasses to ensure that dry and recently disturbed sites will be quickly revegetated and the soil surface stabilized. It is an appropriate seed mix for road cuts, pipelines, steeper slopes, and areas requiring quick cover during the ecological restoration process. The mix may be applied by hydro-seeding, by mechanical spreader, or on small sites it can be spread by hand. Lightly rake, or roll to ensure proper soil-seed contact. Best results are obtained with a Spring or late Summer seeding. Late Spring through Mid-Summer seeding will benefit from a light mulching of weed-free straw to conserve moisture. If conditions are drier than usual, watering will be required. Fertilization is not required unless the soils are particularly infertile. Preparation of a clean weed free seed bed is necessary for optimal results.

New England Roadside Matrix Upland Seed Mix

Grasses
Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra), Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans), Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

Wildflowers
Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Smooth Blue Aster (Aster laevis), Bush Clover (Lespedeza capitata), Purple Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Green Headed Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), Grass Leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia), Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea)

Shrubs
Grey Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

 

5.  The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) describes a variety of grasses and forbs that might be appropriate for your site. The plants highlighted are not limited to use only on the coast.  

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

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

Plants for a steep bank in Virginia
June 23, 2009 - I have a small yard with a 3 foot steep bank that I want to plant on. I am looking for fast growing ground cover. There is some shade but not a lot and has a southern exposure. Ground is a bit roug...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover to prevent erosion in Florida
November 04, 2012 - I live on a hill and put in a new side driveway and now I am seeing erosion along the driveway and can see the bottom of my concrete. Grass won't grow because its all shaded. What would be the best g...
view the full question and answer

Native Streambank Plants for SE Pennsylvania
July 18, 2013 - I help manage a nature preserve in southeastern Pennsylvania. Along the stream the banks have been beaten down by a large number of visitors for their educational activities such as stream studies. Th...
view the full question and answer

Controlling slugs in a Pacific Northwest strawberry patch
February 04, 2013 - Would love to plant various varieties of strawberries on a bank for erosion control and ground cover. How can we keep the slugs at bay? We are in the the Pacific Northwest
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