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 13, 2009

From: Helotes, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion for check dam in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What are the best trees for a shallow soil wind break in San Antonio? I am building a check dam (maybe 2' deep by 20' wide tall) over a shallow limestone gully to slow the erosion. the gully drains 85,000 sq. ft. of road, so when it rains there is lots of water, but once everything dries up, it is just as dry as uphill areas. After I build it, I intend to fill it with soil, then plant trees to act as a windbreak for the cold north winter winds. The gully is in a highly porous recharge area for the Edwards Aquifer. I will be able to protect the trees from deer with chicken wire, so it only needs to be deer resistant Therefore the ideal tree would have the following qualities: Evergreen - slows the wind more than branches Tall - area I wish to protect is 8' uphill Shallow roots - Soil will never be deeper than 2' before it hits limestone Erosion control - holds soil together even when socked with a lot of water Taproot - punch holes in the limestone for more waterto infiltrate instead of flow downhill Drought resistant - when there is water, there will be lots of it, but it may have to go 5-9 months without water (like this year 08-09). It will get help for the first two years to establish itself. Any fill soil recommendations would be welcome. The area around the gully is a yellow caliche. I would like to fill with a soil that will retain water well, not get washed downhill too easily, but not be so fertile that the trees will refuse to grow into the surrounding caliche and restrict their root system to the fill soil. BTW - I am using your bee and butterfly recommendations. Best Regards, Robert Davidson

ANSWER:

Much as we would like to help you, this seems to be somewhat beyond our capabilities. Mr. Smarty Plants is made up of staff members at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center and volunteers, with the volunteers not necessarily having scientific, engineering or even horticultural training, as is the case with this particular volunteer. This sounds like a pretty complex project, and some of the trees you are looking for, as in a taproot that will punch holes in limestone, are unlikely to exist. We have no knowledge of soil types and how they react to overwatering or underwatering. We would suggest you go to a soil engineer who is trained in this kind of situation, and can give you much more expert help than we can.
 

More Erosion Control Questions

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...
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for a steep slope in Arlington, VA
September 10, 2015 - I have a side yard area about 35' long and 10' wide. It is very steep and get full sun. I recently I removed all the weeds down to dirt. I want to do low maintenance plants with mulch.
view the full question and answer

Difficult slope in Tarrytown NY
March 03, 2009 - I hope you can help. Is there a way to plant some native shrubs and plants on a steep slope that is filled in some areas with rock without having to tier the slope? The section is approximately 50' w...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to stop pond bank erosion
June 04, 2008 - I recently purchased a home with a small pond in which a nearby stream daylights. The former owner placed large field stone around the pond and the small stream; however, the area around the pond and...
view the full question and answer

Preventing Soil Erosion in Elgin, Texas
June 06, 2011 - I live in Elgin,TX and our property is basically a slope with dense oak and cedar trees on the back of the property. The soil is sandy loam. What type of native plants or grasses can I plant to stop...
view the full question and answer

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