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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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Tuesday - July 15, 2014

From: Loudon, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Erosion Control, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native Plants for a Steep Slope in TN
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in Knoxville, TN and have a very steep slope in our backyard. There is a lot of water erosion causing our grass to be covered with red dirt. I would love to try to plant something on this bank to keep it from eroding. It would be wonderful to have nice grass in our backyard. I'm not sure it is even possible, but would take any advice you could give me on any native plants, shrubs or trees that could help.

ANSWER:

There's hope for you to have a great lawn in your backyard and a slope full of native wildlfowers too. The first place to go to find a list of potential slope plants for your backyard 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 put together an extensive database of plants and their characteristics for you to review.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: TN, Habit – Herb (for herbaceous), Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Dry (because of the steep slope), and Size – 0-6 feet. This search criteria will give you many native plants to consider, but not all of them are appropriate for a slope.

Some potential herbaceous slope plants include:

Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida (Prairie verbena)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

Some potential shrubs for the slope are:

Gaylussacia baccata (Black huckleberry)

Symphoricarpos albus (Common snowberry)

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie verbena
Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Black huckleberry
Gaylussacia baccata

Common snowberry
Symphoricarpos albus

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