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
1 rating

Sunday - November 04, 2012

From: Tallahassee, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcover to prevent erosion in Florida
Answered by: Nan Hampton


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 groundcover or grass to put down to prevent erosion and tolerate shade. I want to plant now for October and know it may go dormant. I researched and some sites mentioned Liriope muscaria?


First of all, our mission here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes." Since Liriope muscari is a native of China and Japan, it would not be a plant that we would recommend.  We do have some native plant recommendations, however.

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) makes a very good evergreen groundcover.  Like grasses, it has a fibrous root system that helps fight erosion.

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) does well in sun, part shade or shade.   In Tallahassee it would probably remain evergreen.

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry) will grow in part shade or shade.

Packera aurea (Golden ragwort) and Packera obovata (Golden groundsel) both make evergreen groundcovers with yellow flowers early in the spring.

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage) is evergreen.

There are several ferns that would make good ground covers in Leon County:

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) is evergreen.

Thelypteris kunthii (Wood fern) is semi-evergreen and makes a low maintenance groundcover.

Woodwardia areolata (Netted chainfern) is a deciduous fern that makes a good groundcover.

You might consider using a combination of some of the plants above rather than making a mono-culture of a single type of plant.


From the Image Gallery

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Calyptocarpus vialis

Mitchella repens

Golden groundsel
Packera aurea

Golden groundsel
Packera obovata

Lyreleaf sage
Salvia lyrata

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

Wood fern
Thelypteris kunthii

Netted chainfern
Woodwardia areolata

More Erosion Control Questions

Looking for plants for erosion control in Tennessee.
July 14, 2009 - We are looking for plants native to east Tenessee that will help control erosion once the kudzu in a ravine has been removed. The site is full sun with dry soil. Moderate to fast growth and resist...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing ground cover for creekside
May 18, 2014 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants. I live in Austin Texas and am looking for an aggressively spreading ground cover or grass to plant along a small creek on the back of my property in order to help with soil er...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on partially shaded slope
November 27, 2010 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Atlanta, GA. My house is on a hill, and I am beginning to have erosion at my backyard porch (concrete slab, on the corners especially). The soil is mainly red clay, a...
view the full question and answer

Plants for curb appeal from Birmingham AL
June 16, 2011 - My front yard is on a down hill slope. Can you recommend some plants that would be good for creating curb appeal that will be planted up against the house? We need some that are short around 2 feet ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a property near a conservation area in MD
July 18, 2011 - Can you tell me what native plants and the type of landscaping that would be good to plant in front of a forest conservation area that is on a steep hill behind our future house? It is located in Manc...
view the full question and answer

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