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

Monday - May 20, 2013

From: Brooklyn Park, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Limiting erosion around pond from Brooklyn Park MN
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Minnesota resident, wants to find plant limit erosion from pond?


We are afraid this is not much information to go on, but we will see if we can help you find a solution for your erosion problem. First, we want you to know that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center,  home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is commited to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which the plants evolved; in your case, Hennipin County, MN. This helps to ensure that the plants selected are already accustomed to the climate, rainfall and soils where they are being planted.

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on controlling erosion around a lakeside area. The plants we suggest for you might not be the same as those for New Jersey, but the general plan is the same, using grasses with long fibrous roots  and low shrubs with roots that will spread and hold the soil.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, and scroll down to the Combination Search. There we will select Minnesota for the state, "grass or grasslike" for Habit and 1' to 3' for Height. Since you did not indicate the amount of sunshine the area got each day, we will omit that specification, but you can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to discover what its optimal growing conditions are. After that search, we will repeat it, putting "shrub" under Habit. You can run the search yourself putting in whatever heights, bloom times, etc. you are looking for. We will check with the USDA Plant Profiles on each plant (a link is at the bottom of the plant page) to ensure that plant is native to the area of Hennepin County, in southeastern Minnesota. This gives a little more confidence that the plant can do well in the climate, rainfall and soils in your area.

If you have difficulty finding the native plants you want, go to our National Supplier's Directory, put your town and state, or just your zipcode, in the "Enter Search Location" box and click on GO. This will give you a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and consultants in your general area. All have contact information so you can find out if they have what you are looking for before you go.

Grasses for erosion control:

Aristida purpurea (Purple threeawn)

Bouteloua hirsuta (Hairy grama)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Carex plantaginea (Plantainleaf sedge)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (Nimblewill)

Shrubs for erosion control:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Gaultheria hispidula (Creeping snowberry)

Gaultheria procumbens (Eastern teaberry)

Ledum groenlandicum (Bog labrador tea)

Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry)


From the Image Gallery

Purple threeawn
Aristida purpurea

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Plantainleaf sedge
Carex plantaginea

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Creeping snowberry
Gaultheria hispidula

Eastern teaberry
Gaultheria procumbens

Bog labrador tea
Ledum groenlandicum

Late lowbush blueberry
Vaccinium angustifolium

More Shrubs Questions

Grapeland, TX is NOT Grapevine, TX
July 25, 2013 - I submitted a question and today received my answer. I do thank you for this valuable service. However, I stated that I lived in East Texas in GRAPELAND, Tx. Nan Hampton answered me and said that a...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs with berries for birds and growing small red oak tree
September 16, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Recently, I saw a short article about attracting birds to one's yard. The article said to plant "berry-bearing" shrubs, but didn't name any specific shrubs. Could you tell...
view the full question and answer

Sunny and shady lawns from Austin
April 28, 2012 - My front yard has a large bed surrounded by a mix of St. Augustine and Bermuda grass. Last summers heat killed off about 90% of the St. Augustine, which we would like to replace anyway to conserve re...
view the full question and answer

Planting non-native sago palm and philodendron from Pflugerville TX
September 15, 2012 - I have a small/young sago palm and philodendron I'd like to plant. Do you advise to plant them now with fall/winter approaching or wait until next spring.
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

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