Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
2 ratings

Tuesday - July 22, 2008

From: Burlington, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Groundcover for erosion control
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a sloped area in my back yard where we need to plant some erosion control plants. The area is above a large (100 foot long x 4 foot tall) stone wall and another smaller wall of natural stone. It's the area above the natural stone wall that requires the plants. The area is south-facing with partial shade and good drainage. What do you recommend for low-growth, low/no-maintenance plants? This area is not 'mowable'.

ANSWER:

Grasses are the best erosion-control plants because their fibrous root systems hold the soil so well. However, even the more attractive grasses tend to be taller than you probably want. Sedges have a similar root system and, in general, are shorter. Two sedges that grow in partial shade in Massachusetts are Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) and Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge).

Two species of phlox, Phlox subulata (moss phlox) and Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox), are both low-growing and effective in erosion control.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) and Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) are evergreen groundcovers that grow well in shade and partial shade in Massachusetts.

These two ferns, Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern) and Osmunda regalis (royal fern), are not low-growing but they could make an attractive plant for the area.


Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Phlox subulata

Phlox divaricata

Mitchella repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Osmunda cinnamomea

Osmunda regalis

 



 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for a drainage easement in central Texas
September 29, 2008 - I have a 1/3 acre of drainage easement behind my home. I would like to cover it with wildflowers. It is only wet during or shortly after a rain and otherwise does not have water. I have channelled ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion at edge of driveway in Abilene TX
August 26, 2011 - My lawn suffered a great loss of grass over the winter and the soil at the edge of the driveway is washing away with watering and the occasional rains that we have. I am trying to get the grass to gr...
view the full question and answer

Looking for plants for erosion control in Tennessee.
July 14, 2009 - We are looking for plants native to east Tenessee that will help control erosion once the kudzu in a ravine has been removed. The site is full sun with dry soil. Moderate to fast growth and resist...
view the full question and answer

Shady Perennial Groundcover Suggestions for Indiana
April 21, 2013 - Could you please recommend perennial groundcovers for Indiana that are low and leafy, self-spreading, non-invasive, deer resistant, and moisture tolerant; and that are good for erosion control on a sh...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in Georgia
May 17, 2010 - Hello, I have a question regarding water run-off coming from the neighbors yard as my yard is below their yard. What kind of ground cover would grow very quickly (low to ground) to help with the r...
view the full question and answer

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