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 - May 05, 2009

From: Tully, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Groundcover to reduce erosion for shady area in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live on a lake with gravelly and clay soils, lots of wind and little sun. I am looking for a native ground cover that will help reduce erosion over some of the steep slopes facing south (under shade trees)

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for controlling erosion on steep slopes because they develop extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil.  Most grasses do best in sun or partial shade. Your lack of sun limits the choice for grasses and grass-like plants (sedges), but there are a few possibilities.  I have also recommended some low growing shrubs and ferns that will tolerate clay soils.  All of the plants have been recorded in, or adjacent to, Onondaga County, New York:

GRASS/GRASS-LIKE:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex plantaginea (plantainleaf sedge)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

SMALL SHRUBS:

Chimaphila maculata (striped prince's pine)

Rubus pubescens (dwarf red blackberry)

Vaccinium pallidum (Blue Ridge blueberry) and photos

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)

Gaultheria hispidula (creeping snowberry) and photos

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry)

PERENNIAL HERB:

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum (feathery false lily of the valley)

FERNS:

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)



Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex plantaginea

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Chimaphila maculata

Rubus pubescens

 


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ceanothus americanus

Epigaea repens

Gaultheria procumbens

Hypericum prolificum

Vaccinium oxycoccos

Maianthemum racemosum ssp. racemosum

Pteridium aquilinum

Osmunda cinnamomea
 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Plants for narrow planter boxes in San Antonio
October 02, 2010 - We have a narrow flower planter box in three sections above a french drain in front of our house. The box is about 2 feet high (filled with Gardenville soil) above a french drain covered with filter ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for shady area
March 27, 2009 - We are looking to plant a privacy hedge around the perimeter of our yard that will grow to 6 or 8 feet tall - some of the perimeter is exposed to sun and we will likely go with evergreen sumac - howev...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow under elm tree in Amarillo TX
May 01, 2014 - I have a large elm tree and I can't get seem to get anything to grow under it. I was wondering if there are any shade-loving groundcovers that you would recommend (have tried English Ivy, hostas, an...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under Juniper for San Antonio
September 14, 2012 - I have a shaded area under juniper in the Hill Country of Texas that has many sprouts from the tree. We have to weed whack it to keep them under control. What ground cover could I use to enhance tha...
view the full question and answer

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