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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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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!

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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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.



 

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