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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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Wednesday - August 07, 2013

From: Gainesville, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Hillside Erosion Control for Gainesville GA
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have a steep bare hill and the runoff from it is heavy this year. I need help with a fast growing groundcover that will help control erosion and runoff. Planting on the hill is difficult because you can't stand up and put your foot on a shovel. It gets about 6 hours of sun a day. It has some sandy areas but mostly clay. It has a row of cedar trees at the top on the east side. But it gets sun from about 12 PM to 5-6 PM

ANSWER:

  As a general approach the best plants to stabilize a slope and prevent erosion are plants like grasses that have fibrous root systems and shrubs and perennials that spread with runners to form thickets.  Here are a set of question/answers that Mr Smarty Plants has already put out for areas near to yours with suggestions as to good approaches:

Stopping Soil Erosion on a Slope in Bonaire GA  contains a link to a University of Georgia publication on this topic, which further links to a selection of Georgia groundcovers, several of which are specifically noted as native.

Preventing erosion on a sloping lot from Buford Georgia has a good list of recommended plants

Erosion control on partially shaded slope from Atlanta GA, has a link to the Georgia Native Plant Society and a list of suggested plants

Grasses for erosion control in sand on coastal Georgia is a little farther from home but covers a different set of natives with a list of natives more suited to Nassau County.

From these recommendations, here are several plants that may prove useful:

Sedges:  Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge),  Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Grasses: Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem), Bouteloua hirsuta (Hairy grama), Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Herbs:  Phlox subulata (Creeping phlox),  Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge)

Vine:  Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium sempervirens

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Creeping phlox
Phlox subulata

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Allegheny spurge
Pachysandra procumbens

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