En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Erosion control for shady slope in Kentucky backyard

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

Wednesday - August 28, 2013

From: Florence, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant
Title: Erosion control for shady slope in Kentucky backyard
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in northern Kentucky (near Cincinnati). I have an area in my backyard that has slope. It is next to an ash tree and is very shady. Water erosion has washed away the top soil and pretty much nothing will grow there. I have tried planting periwinkle and ferns but they haven't done well, I think because the soil is too nutrient deficient. I have tried composting with dead leaves and grass clippings but when it rains, the water washes that away too. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

The best solution may be erosion control blankets to stabilize the erosion area. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediments to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. You can also insert plants into the soil by cutting through the matting. The roots of the plants that are growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.  You could add your dead leaves, grass clippings and, perhaps, some topsoil underneath the blanket.  These blankets are available at some larger nurseries and "big box" stores.  Search on the internet for locations near you.  Now, here are some recommendations for native shade-loving plants to try for the area.  These all can be found occurring in Boone County or in adjacent areas.

 

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE (Grasses and sedges have fibrous root systems that help hold soil in place.)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex plantaginea (Plantainleaf sedge)

Danthonia spicata (Poverty oatgrass) will grow in the shade and poor soil.  Here are photos and more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

 

PERENNIAL SHRUBS

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea) has massive, deep roots to help prevent erosion.

Heuchera americana (American alumroot) tolerates poor soil.

Gaylussacia baccata (Black huckleberry)

 

FERNS (There are other possibilities for ferns, but these two are good choices.)

Dryopteris marginalis (Marginal woodfern)

 Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Plantainleaf sedge
Carex plantaginea

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

American alumroot
Heuchera americana

Black huckleberry
Gaylussacia baccata

Marginal woodfern
Dryopteris marginalis

Christmas fern
Polystichum acrostichoides

More Erosion Control Questions

How to stabilize a slope under Red Oaks?
March 19, 2013 - A portion our front "yard" (20x40 feet) is a limestone hillside shaded by 3 large spanish oaks. The small amount of grass holding onto the hillside is now gone from the drought, and the hill has er...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control with perennials for a shady Dallas bank
July 25, 2013 - Thank you for your help with turf or perennials on a shaded bank, 4000 sq ft, for the Dallas area that has good roots, grows in semi shade to shade, is on a steep bank so cannot mow, and flowers the l...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in Virginia
October 24, 2008 - Please help! Looking for landscaping ideas for a very large Steep hill. Features: slope is approximately 45-60 degrees, clay soil mixed with fill dirt, lots of deer, partial sun, seeking minimal maint...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
view the full question and answer

Flowering Deer Resistant Ground Cover for Dry Rocky Soil: Alabama
March 26, 2012 - My question has been partially answered in the FAQ but I live in Birmingham where the soil is clay and rocky so it's a little different. I want to plant on a rocky slope (small rocks like the size of...
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