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Tuesday - February 28, 2012

From: Nashville, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Need plants to control erosion on a hillside in Nashville, TN.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Recently, a rogue contractor scraped all the sod off of my Tennessee hillside. Now the clay soil is exposed and washing away quickly. The hill slope is approximately 30 degrees. In the spring I'd like to cover the hillside with a really fast growing grass, to help slow down erosion. The hillside faces south and gets plenty of sun. What's the best grass to plant? And what's the best method for planting it? Thank you for your assistance.


You are correct in selecting grasses for controlling erosion. Their fibrous root systems are great at holding on to soil particles.

To look at some possibilities for planting, go to our Native Plant Database and scroll down to the Combination Search box. Make the following selections: select TN under State, grass/grass-like under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check Sun under light requirements, and Dry under Soil moisture. Click on the Submit combination Search button, and you will get a list of 20 grasses and sedges that you can choose from. Clicking on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that has plant characteristics, growth requirements, and in most cases, images. As you go through the list, look for plants that match your growing conditions.

Take a look at our "How To" page and check out the articles under the title "Large Scale Wildflower Plantings" for some more tips.

Since you are planting on a 30 degree slope, you might consider using an erosion control blanket to prevent your seeds from washing away.

You may also want to contact the folks at the Davidson County office of University of Tennessee Extension for some help closer to home.


More Erosion Control Questions

Ground cover for steep slope in Washington DC
May 07, 2010 - We have a steep slope in our garden in Washington DC which has sun from noon to sun set. Could you please recommend some low maintenance plants which would be a good ground cover and limit erosion?
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Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
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Native plants for controlling erosion in Fairmont WV
August 30, 2010 - I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. The area is partly shaded.
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Native grasses for erosion control
October 20, 2008 - I have moved into a home that had vinca covering the front yard which slopes to the sidewalk (18'x15'). I have removed 3/4 of the vinca by the roots and have placed several gulf coast muhly across ...
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Plants for erosion control in arid region
September 29, 2008 - In semi arid south west (Phoenix), the drainage is managed by creating incised channels. Typically, the dirt channel can erode with even very low velocities of moving water. To reduce erosion therefor...
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