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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 17, 2009

From: Longview, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for steep slope under large oak in East Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Longview and have a slope on the west side of my house that is eroding. There is a large 18-20 y-o oak tree that shades half the slope. The slope itself is too steep to safely/easily mow. I would like a flowering ground cover but would happily settle for anything that is easy to grow and will stop the erosion. I have a limited budget.

ANSWER:

Grasses are ideal for combating erosion because their extensive fibrous roots are very effective in holding the soil.  I know you need something that doesn't need to be mowed, but there are ornamental grasses that you could use that wouldn't require mowing.  You might intersperse them with some of the plants below.  Here are some attractive grasses that should require no mowing to remain attractive:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) grows in part shade and shade.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye) grows in part shade and sun.

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill) grows in part shade and shade.

Here are several groundcovers that should work well:

Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort) grows in part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) and shade (<2 hours of sun per day).

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) grows well in shade and part shade, but will also grow in full sun.

Geum canadense (white avens) grows in part shade and shade.

Glandularia canadensis (rose mock vervain) grows in part shade.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) grows in part shade and shade.

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies) grows best in full sun.

Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort) grows in part shade and shade.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) grows in shade, part shade and full sun.

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) grows in shade and part shade.

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern) grows in shade and part shade.

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) grows in shade, part shade and full sun.

Depending on how steep your slope is and how bad the erosion is, you might want to consider an erosion-control blanket to stabilize the slope so that the grass seeds can get a better chance to germinate and become established. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediment to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. Underneath the matting the roots of the plants growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem.  Many plant nurseries carry this erosion control material.


Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Asplenium platyneuron

Calyptocarpus vialis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Geum canadense

Geum canadense

Glandularia canadensis

Mitchella repens

Oenothera speciosa

Packera obovata

Phyla nodiflora

Polystichum acrostichoides

Pteridium aquilinum

Salvia lyrata

 

 

More Groundcovers Questions

Groundcover for Orange County, Florida
April 14, 2012 - I live in Central FL (Winter Park)and I have a small, mostly sunny (no trees) backyard next to a large in-ground swimming pool which fills up with the leaves of my neighbor's oak trees. The backyard ...
view the full question and answer

Is Phyla lanceolata (frogfruit) poisonous to dogs fromTitusville FL?
June 01, 2014 - Is Phyla lanceolata, also called Fogfruit, Lanceleaf Fogfruit, or Northern Fogfruit, toxic to dogs? We have it growing amongst our grass. I can't find it on any toxic plant list.
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Miami FL
March 27, 2013 - What is a ground cover that does not need mowing or a lot of water and survives in South Florida heat and is also native to the area? I would like to turn my lawn into a more natural self-sustaining a...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for heavy clay soil in east Austin
May 02, 2007 - I live in East Austin and have very thick clay soil on my property. I also have a lot of shade and partial sun/shade. Can you suggest some native plant varieties that are well-adapted to these condi...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for shady slope in clay soil
May 20, 2015 - I need to stop erosion on a very shady, sloping side of my house. It is cly soil. We drive our rider mower over it to get to the grassy area in our yard. What perennial ground over might work? Thank...
view the full question and answer

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