En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

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

Stumps of fallen oaks in Hurricane Irene from Newton PA
September 03, 2011 - Two large red oaks fell in the woods in our yard in Newtown PA due to Hurricane Irene. The trees have been removed, but the stumps remain. Please can you recommend some fast-growing, attractive, nativ...
view the full question and answer

Mulching in deep shade in Round Rock TX
June 22, 2010 - Central Texas: Problem is deep shade and high temps. I noted your advice about danger to the tree when planting beneath shade trees, but wonder if there is a substance - perhaps pine needles - that co...
view the full question and answer

Suggestion for plants to replace grass in semi-shade in NY
February 01, 2008 - I have an area that is in semi-shade but gets about 4-5 hours of sunlight in the summer. Instead of grass I would like to perhaps use wild flowers or even prairie type grasses. Any suggestions??
view the full question and answer

Container plants for shade in Austin
March 15, 2011 - I reside in 78739. Just moving here from So Cal (where all plants are perennials), I'm looking to create a good "Shade loving" Container for near my front door. I'm looking at 'Summer Wave' Wi...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Narrow, Dry, Shaded Site in Georgia
April 03, 2014 - I am writing from Valdosta, GA. Could you please suggest three perennial shrubs and/or plants that flower at different times of the spring and summer? Also ones that can be planted in a 2 ft. wide s...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center