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

Saturday - June 09, 2012

From: Ridgeway, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need a pretty ground cover to control erosion in Rigdeway, SC.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


What is a fast, pretty ground cover blanket to control erosion on steep hill. gets full sun.


You didn’t mention the size of your slope, or how steep it is, but we’ll press on. The words erosion control always cause Mr. Smarty Plants to think about grasses and grass-like plants because their fibrous root systems are very good at holding soil particles.

Lets start by looking in our Native Plant Database and use the Combination Search option. Select South Carolina under State, grass/grass-like under General Appearance, and perennial under Lifespan. Check Sun under Light Requirement, and dry under Soil Moisture. Click the Submit combination Search button. You will get a list of 26 species that meet these criteria. Clicking on the Scientific name of each species will bring up information about its characteristics, growth requirements, and in most cases, photos. As you go through the list, select the best match between the plant and your growth conditions. Several of these are probably taller than you want.
Grasses aren’t the only kind of plant you can use, so lets do another Combination Search. Start as before, but this time, select herb under general Appearance and leave the other choices the same. Clicking on the Submit combination Search button will bring up 83 species to explore.

Your best bet may be a combination of grasses and wildflowers to have a colorful erosion control blanket.

Two other sources of information and assistance are the South Carolina Native Plant Society, and the Fairfield County Office of Clemson Cooperative Extension.


More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Use of cedar/juniper mulch in wildflower meadows
August 31, 2013 - What to do with freshly shredded cedar/juniper mulch? We have a pile of freshly ground cedar mulch that we can either keep in a large pile until it has composted(but the neighbors are complaining), or...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Gregg's mistflower from Fredericksburg, TX
May 19, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: Something is wilting the tops of my Gregg's mistflower, Conoclinium greggii. I cannot see bugs on the plant, so I am wondering if it's a disease. The problem is widespread to...
view the full question and answer

Shade Tolerant Groundcover for Texas
July 13, 2016 - I live in Atascosa county in Pleasanton Texas, I have an abundance of Live Oak and Ash trees shading my property and need a groundcover for my backyard which is nothing but sand and where I have dogs ...
view the full question and answer

Gaura dying from Townsville, Australia
September 14, 2012 - My passionate pink Gaura appears to be dying. It had a beautiful blooming period & now is going backwards. What is happening? I have pruned it, but don't know how to save it.
view the full question and answer

Plants wilting too quickly in Toledo OH
May 27, 2012 - The garden I have had recent issues with plants wilting all too quickly. I would like to know what types of plants would be hearty for the climate in Toledo, Ohio. I have a partly sunny front yard and...
view the full question and answer

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