Rent Shop 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
4 ratings

Thursday - January 29, 2009

From: Charlotte, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native plants for erosion control in North Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an area on the north side of my house that is a hill with about a 6:1 slope. It also has a set of steps used to get from the front of the yard to the rear yard. It is very shaded. I am having a problem with erosion around my steps and stepping stones. I plan to cover the area around the steps/stepping stones with small river stone. My local nursery suggested Phlox. I would like a recommendation on some types of plants that would provide color and ground cover in this situation, that will be low maintenance if possible ? Can you please provide some insight ?

ANSWER:

Probably the biggest deterrent to erosion is a grass or sedge. They have fibrous roots that grab and hold the soil, and keep it from slithering away. We realize you specified adding some color to your area, and some of the grasses do have color and can be very attractive. We will select some blooming groundcovers and some grasses that we feel would address your problem. To do this, we will go to our Recommended Species site, click on North Carolina on the map, and then NARROW YOUR SEARCH, selecting "Herb" (herbaceous flowering plants) under Habit, and "Shade" under light requirements. We will repeat the process selecting "Grass or Grass-like" under Habit. From those, we will be able to pick plants native, not only to North America but to North Carolina, that will thrive in the conditions you specified. You can follow the links to each plant page and learn how big it gets, whether it's perennial or annual, what color the blooms are, etc. These plants are all commercially available; if you have difficulty locating the ones you like, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box and it will give you a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environmental specialists in your general area.

HERBS (herbaceous flowering plants)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Phlox divaricata (wild blue phlox)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

GRASSES OR GRASS-LIKE PLANTS

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Aquilegia canadensis

Coreopsis lanceolata

Monarda didyma

Phlox divaricata

Carex blanda

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Sorghastrum nutans

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Phytoremediation using Paspalum vaginatum
February 06, 2015 - Do you know of any on-going research using Paspalum vaginatum as the prime plant (monoculture) for use in phytoremediation. Utilizing this plant in Vegetated Swales, Spreader Swales, Grassy Swales,...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for erosion control in sand on coastal Georgia
May 01, 2011 - I've been tasked with identifying native grass varieties or mixes (Coastal Georgia) that can be used for erosion control on sandy slopes created from dredged river sediment and that receive lots of s...
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

Clay hill with erosion problems in Reedsport OR
July 10, 2009 - We have a very steep 35-40' clay hill subject to erosion in the Oregon rainy season. How or what do we do to get some kind of vegetation/grass, etc to grow without washing away? We have had mudslides...
view the full question and answer

Plants to hold a slope in NY
May 17, 2010 - We recently built a house (on a hillside) and now are having some drainage issues on a fairly steep slope (a small creek is forming in the swale the excavator made "deal" with the drainage). Yester...
view the full question and answer

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