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
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

Erosion control for steep creek bank in Tennessee
June 12, 2010 - I have creek bank erosion problems in Woodlawn, Tennessee, northwest of Nashville. What plants can I place there. The bank is approximately 12ft almost vertical.
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Spicewood TX
March 20, 2013 - I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda G...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for steep slope in West Virginia
October 05, 2008 - I live in Zone 6 (Eastern Panhandle of WV). I have a rocky, claylike steep slope (30-40% grade, about 50 feet wide and 20 feet long, it sits in the afternoon sun). So I need to plant erosion-control p...
view the full question and answer

Establishing wildflowers on a slope in Virginia
August 18, 2012 - From Roanoke Virginia. I have a steep bank rising from one side of my driveway to woods above. Different areas vary from full sun, to half day shade. It is possible to carefully walk/stand on it, we a...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion in Arizona
January 17, 2009 - I'm looking for a plant to stop erosion; I have big wash outs that are starting to erode my yard so I guess I'm looking for deep rooting plants. I live south of Tucson, Arizona. If you can advise me...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center