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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 06, 2013

From: Asheville, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Erosion Control for a NC Clay Slope
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Hi, We have a large slope on the road edge of our property that has been gradually eroding with spring rains (NC red clay). We would really like to plant something for erosion control but the bank is too steep for us to trim/maintain it much. We are a part of a community near the forest that values a natural aesthetic but we do have HOA guidelines that lead me to believe we would prefer a ground cover over a grass. It is a sunny north facing slope, 20' tall 100' wide with a pitch steep enough to require climbing on all fours. .

ANSWER:

  Mr Smarty Plants was thinking – “My, that sounds familiar” – and I went off and found a very similar question and answer that came through last fall.  It was entitled “Slope Erosion control for Fairview NC” and had a very similar sounding situation to yours.   I also found another one from your state, which is slightly different in that the bank was shaded :  “Native plants for erosion control in North Carolina”. 

  In looking at your specific request,  Mr Smarty Plants would like to push back just a little and remind you that the fibrous root systems with perhaps runners that grasses have are key to conquering erosion on steep slopes.  What you can do is select grasses that are more amenable to the HOA aesthetic.  Of those mentioned in the previous answer, two grow relatively low,  Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) has a rather pleasing clumping nature and Carex texensis (Texas sedge) has a turflike aspect.

  Wildflowers make a nice color addition, the recommended flowers were:
Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains coreopsis)
Baptisia australis (Blue wild indigo)
Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower)
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower)
Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

  On an area that large, you may want to consider some shrubs also.  I used the North Carolina Recommended Species page to search a little further and narrowed the selection to shrubs that thrive in the sun and in clay.  May I suggest :
Robinia hispida (Bristly locust), which is specifically recommended for erosion control, Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle), Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark), Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac),  or Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac).  

 

From the Image Gallery


Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Plains coreopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Bristly locust
Robinia hispida

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

More Groundcovers Questions

What to plant between patio flagstones in Austin, TX?
May 16, 2011 - I would like to plant something between my flagstones on the patio. Something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little to moderate traffic. It is in a shade to partly...
view the full question and answer

Low groundcover for Possum Kingdom
March 02, 2011 - I am seeking a very low ground cover (advised so snakes and rats won't take cover), that is drought resistant and grows on a rocky steep incline to the lake in full afternoon/evening sun at Possum ...
view the full question and answer

New gardener on lawn for Poolville TX
April 28, 2012 - I have never had the opportunity to have a nice yard until recently when I got married. My husband loves a nice yard and we have worked very hard and put in hours of work. We are learning by trial a...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf for East Texas
May 14, 2012 - We live in east Texas, right on the beginning of the piney words, the soil is a little sandy. We have taken up a wooden walkway but can't get anything to grow there. Could the soil be dead from year ...
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant groundcover plants for Tarrant County, Texas
November 01, 2011 - I live in far NE Tarrant County (Ft Worth), TX and need a groundcover that can tolerate complete shade and poor, rocky, clay soil. I need mostly for erosion control, and needs to be relatively low
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center