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

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

Preventing erosion on a sloping lot
April 16, 2011 - I am trying to find a native plant to use on a sloped area in my back yard to help prevent the slope from eroding away (zone 7- N. Atlanta, GA). I want something evergreen, between 6 to 30 inches tal...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for a slope in KY.
September 29, 2012 - I have a slope in my back yard that is mostly a slate shelf, grass and Weeds will grow but not well, very spotty. I am wanting a ground cover that blooms. Would like to not have to mow. This is a ve...
view the full question and answer

Water seepage problems in basement in Philadelphia
April 09, 2009 - I am interested in stopping/limiting water seepage into my basement by placing water absorbing ground plants along one or both sides. The grass we planted when home was new in July 2007 has taken on o...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for a NC Clay Slope
June 06, 2013 - 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...
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