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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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Thursday - January 10, 2013

From: Knoxville, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need plants for steep slope in Knoxville, TN.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have several steep banks that have to be weed-eated each year every week. Do you know if there are any kinds of ground cover that would take over the weeds on these steep dangerous banks. I live in Knoxville Tn.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is wondering what kind of weeds you have that require that much weed-eating, and how short you wish to keep them? We often recommend planting grasses/grass-like plants to help control erosion on steep slopes, but many of these are 12 inches tall or more. I am going to suggest two approaches to help solve your problem. The first is to introduce you to our Native Plant Database.

 Scroll down to the Combination Search Box. and select Tennessee under State, Grass/grass-like under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check sun under Light requirement and dry under Soil moisture. Click on the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a  list of 20 native grass/grass-like plants for Tennessee landscapes. Clicking  on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images. As you check out each plant, you can note its size and other features to see if they might fit your needs.

You can modify your search by going to the Narrow Your Search Box on the right side of the screen and change Grass/grass-like to Herb under General Appearance, and clicking 0-1 under Height. Clicking on  the Narrow your Search Box will bring up a list of 12 flowering plants that you can check  out.

The second approach is to share the answers to previously asked questions. We quite often get questions about what to grow on steep slopes. All of these questions are from the southeastern US, so growing conditions will be similar to Tennessee. You will find suggestions for plants in each answer along with images of the plants.

Previous questions
Tennessee 
    #5241

Georgia
   #4101

South Carolina
   #8126

North Carolina
   #6854  erosion control blanket
   #3407 

Virginia,  talks about not cutting the grass can strengthen the roots
   #4007

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to hold a slope in Northern New York
December 10, 2009 - I'm looking for native (South shore, Lake Ontario) plants to slow erosion on a steep, 20 foot bank. They don't have to be decorative (although flowering plants are always nice), but they should SPRE...
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Native Plants for Shaded North Slope in Ohio
January 03, 2013 - I have a shaded north hillside which needs erosion control plants. Mostly moss and very thin grass grows there now. Please help!
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Possibilities of plants for bank shale ledge in Johnstown, PA
April 20, 2008 - We have a mountain that we ripped out to build our house. The remaining ledge is mostly bank shale and everyone is telling us that nothing will grow on the hillside due to it being bank shale and a p...
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Native plants for erosion control in Cataula GA
July 10, 2009 - I have several steep embankments on my property that are slowly eroding. What kind of plants (other than grasses, the area is not lawn mower accessible) can I plant to keep this from happening? We hav...
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Plants for erosion control in Georgia
May 17, 2010 - Hello, I have a question regarding water run-off coming from the neighbors yard as my yard is below their yard. What kind of ground cover would grow very quickly (low to ground) to help with the r...
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