Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - February 07, 2014

From: Lorton, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Trees
Title: Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil has a lot of clay. Should we also put some topsoil on top? Some members want to install a drip sprinkler system, but others think this will add to the erosion.

ANSWER:

   Mr. Smarty Plants has a solution to all of this controversy with the use of native plants to landscape this area.  One of the finer properties of native plants is that they have developed in their environment to not need any irrigation or exceptional care.  To combat the erosion, we suggest grasses or shrubs that have extended root systems, those will help hold the soil in place and reduce erosion.

 Here is a selection of previous Mr. Smarty Plants Questions and Answers which address questions similar to yours:
Stabilizing a lakeside slope from Bracey, VA
Riverbank retention in VA
Native Groundcovers for Spartanburg, SC
Erosion Control for a NC Clay Slope

  These all have similar enough lists of grasses and sedges that I think you can find a reasonable set of erosion resistant plants from these.  You also mentioned that all the trees that were planted died.   This link is to the Recommended Species list for Virginia.  If you use the “Narrow the list” capability on the right hand side – you will find nine shrubs that will thrive in full sun and 33 different trees.  All of these will be well adapted, but will need a little bit of support in the first years as they get established.  The Wildflower Center also has some advice for planting trees and getting them established, this can be found in the “How-to Articles" and the “Step by Step Guides”.  By the way, there should be no need for irrigation once they get going!

Here’s a few pictures of plants that are on these lists I supplied – I think you can find some likely candidates amongst them!

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Common serviceberry
Amelanchier arborea

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Red maple
Acer rubrum

American holly
Ilex opaca

Virginia pine
Pinus virginiana

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Request for native grasses from Hillsboro TX
August 04, 2012 - P.S. I forgot to mention one very important fact: my neighbor specifically asked for "native grass" recommendations. He thought he was getting a native grass recommendation.
view the full question and answer

Plants for near a salt water swimming pool
April 01, 2009 - I need some suggestions of plants that will grow next to a public salt water swimming pool, located in Bossier City, Louisiana
view the full question and answer

Native Wildflowers and Grasses for Texas Acreage
April 15, 2015 - I recently purchased about 36 acres in Somervell County, Texas where cedar had been bulldozed and burned (many large spots). What would be the best native flowers or grasses to replant in that area? L...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping suggestions for small yard in Alexandria, VA
April 20, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are preparing to till up most of our back yard and redo it. I'd like to use native plants, but am open to cultivars of them (as in, a column-shaped Ilex glabra...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.