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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.

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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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Saturday - November 09, 2013

From: Quincy, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plant Suggestions for a Partly Sunny Steep Bank in Illinois
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I am looking to plant something on a steep clay bank on our Illinois property. It is on the edge of our dirt road with trees above the bank and is partly sunny. What would work best for that type of area?

ANSWER:

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants for your partly shady steep bank is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Illinois, Habit – Shrub, Duration – Perennial, Leaf Retention – deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen, Light Requirement – part shade, Soil Moisture – moist (even though it is a steep bank, moist is selected because of the clay soil). These search criteria will give you 72 native plants to consider. You can narrow down this search further by indicating a shrub size, blooming time and bloom color too if you like.
Some of the plants that are included in this search are:
Aesculus pavia (scarlet buckeye)
Amorpha fruticosa (indigo bush)
Amelanchier stolonifera (running serviceberry)
Cornus alternifolia (alternateleaf dogwood)
Ilex decidua (possumhaw)
Lindera benzoin (north spicebush)
Photinia melanocarpa (black chokeberry)
Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)
Rosa acicularis (prickly rose)
Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry)
Viburnum lentago (nannyberry)

If you are considering using Illinois groundcovers with your shrubs or trees, Mr. Smarty Plants has already put together a list of plants to consider in this previous question.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Running serviceberry
Amelanchier stolonifera

Alternateleaf dogwood
Cornus alternifolia

Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

Northern spicebush
Lindera benzoin

Black chokeberry
Photinia melanocarpa

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Prickly rose
Rosa acicularis

White meadowsweet
Spiraea alba

Coralberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

Nannyberry
Viburnum lentago

More Erosion Control Questions

Liriope spicata for erosion and dust suppression from Bonifay FL
August 16, 2011 - I want to plant Liriope 'spicata'. I know it can be aggressive and that's what I want. We live on dirt road and need something by road for help in erosion and it's also hard to mow this are...
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Plants to stop creek bank erosion in North Carolina
June 26, 2009 - Hi: I live in NC where most of the dirt is clay based. I have a small creek behind my house that is eroding. The creek overflows when there is a heavy rain and as a result, gradual erosion. My g...
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Stopping Soil Erosion on a Slope
May 13, 2013 - I live in Bonaire, GA and have a slope in my back yard. The soil is red clay and it gets sun most of the day. A small section of this slope tends to have a mudslide to the bottom of the slope. How ...
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Plants to stabilize a steep bank in South Carolina
January 09, 2010 - I would like to use native plantings to stabilize a steep bank. The bank is on the side of the gravel road I cut back into the woods and around a 36" pipe going under the road to allow the free flow ...
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Erosion tolerant plants for shade from Kerrville TX
August 06, 2013 - We have just cleared a lot of cedar out of a small draw and would like to know the best groundcovers, shrubs, etc. to plant to hold the soil. Deep shade most of the day.
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