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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 19, 2010

From: Sarnia, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a sloped pond bank in SW Ontario
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I'm looking for native (Southwestern Ontario, Canada) plants to slow erosion and provide a nice appearance on a mildly steep, 20 foot bank leading to a large pond. The bank faces west. And, are trees a possibility, given the mild nature of the slope? And if so, how close to the water's edge should trees be planted?

ANSWER:

This sounds like a challenging but very worthwhile project. It is a great opportunity to plant a "habitat" garden that will reflect the ecosystem of your area, improve the water quality of the pond, increase biodiversity and turn your pond into your best garden feature!

The plants you ultimately select and install will depend on the "sense of place" you are trying to evoke and the plants that are available in the trade, but we do have some suggestions.  The short answer is, you will want to select as many plants as possible with fibrous root systems (grasses, perennials, shrubs) and yes, you can plant trees if you choose ones that are adapted to that kind of environment (that is, you would find them growing near the water's edge in nature).

You will find the Evergreen.ca database a huge help.  You can search for Ontario plants that are appropriate for your conditions and it will generate a list for you. For instance, when I selected Ontario, native species only, pond edge/wetland and erosion control it generated a list of 32 different plants to choose from. You can change the search according to the plant type and other conditions.  As you select plants for higher on the bank, you will select drier soil conditions. You can also choose plants that attract brids and butterflies and make other specifications.

Although our Native Plant database does not have quite an extensive search function, you can do a Combination Search for Ontario, selecting the conditions of your site (first wet, for near the water and then dry for the top of the bank).

Here are a few from the list for wet conditions that are among my favourites:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)

Eupatorium purpureum (sweetscented joepyeweed)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Vernonia fasciculata (prairie ironweed)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)


Amelanchier canadensis

Ilex verticillata

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Physocarpus opulifolius

Spiraea alba

Chelone glabra

Eupatorium purpureum

Iris versicolor

Monarda didyma

Vernonia fasciculata

Calamagrostis canadensis

Carex stipata

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Best Time for Dividing and Transplanting Native Bunch Grasses in Jarrell, Texas
February 02, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, What time of the year is the best for dividing and transplanting native bunch grasses like Gulf muhly, and Miscanthus?
view the full question and answer

Grasses for Pennsylvania
July 18, 2013 - What type of grass does the best in my area?
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
view the full question and answer

Practicality of Cedar Elm and buffalo grass in clay soil in East Texas
July 31, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I live in Katy Texas on what used to be a rice field. The soil either has a lot of clay in it or in places is just solid clay. Will any kind of buffalo grass grow here? I'v...
view the full question and answer

User comment on native grass mixes from Robstown TX
March 21, 2014 - As a followup to my question on seed spreaders, native grass and prairie seed mixes seem a good fit for my location in far western Nueces County which is more semi-arrid than 30 miles away in Corpus w...
view the full question and answer

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