En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 24, 2012

From: Bracey, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Stabilizing a lakeside slope from Bracey, VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


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 into an attractive and low maintenance area that also serves to reduce erosion? Thank you in advance for your input!


Not being anxious to overstrain ourselves, we found a Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer which addresses a very similar situation in Virginia. The previous answer is from Henrico County, north of Richmond, and not far from Mecklenburg Co., where you are located, on the southern border of Virginia with North Carolina.

We believe the advice about using grasses for erosion control in the previous answer also applies here. We are going to check each one we recommend to make sure it grows natively in the Mecklenberg County area, before we list it. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to get more information on what kind of sun exposure it requires, projected height, etc. Or, you can go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, search on Habit (grass or grasslike plants), stipulating the amount of sunlight, the moisture of the soil, even the height you would like.

Plants for Soil Stabilization in Bracey VA:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Carex stipata (Owlfruit sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Peltandra virginica (Green arrow arum)

Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed)


From the Image Gallery

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Green arrow arum
Peltandra virginica

Pontederia cordata

More Erosion Control Questions

Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas
February 24, 2014 - I am looking for some kind of ground cover to control erosion on a north facing slope in Montgomery County, Texas. The area gets very little direct sunlight. I need something that will establish quick...
view the full question and answer

Construction problems on site in Mansfield OH
April 28, 2012 - Last year we had a rectangular above ground pool put in the person who "leveled" for use did a terrible job and basically dug a huge hole for us to put our pool in. The back side of the pool is abou...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for erosion protection in Arlington TX
March 29, 2010 - We live on Johnson Creek in Arlington, Tx. We have recently had to move our fenceline in because the erosion on the creek has collapsed a portion of our retaining wall. I would like to plant somethi...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a windbreak on a slope in OH
April 20, 2011 - Have property at the top of a valley with a steep drop off. Would like to know native to NE Ohio ground covers, grasses perennials, and not too tall trees for windbreak that will prevent erosion. The ...
view the full question and answer

Plant for Erosion Control on Wooded Slope in MD
May 19, 2015 - We are looking for a plant to help with erosion control on a wooded slope next to our drive. The roots of several of the trees are exposed like a shelf, so I think it's a fairly severe problem. We ar...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center