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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - May 17, 2010

From: madison, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs
Title: Plants to hold a slope in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

We recently built a house (on a hillside) and now are having some drainage issues on a fairly steep slope (a small creek is forming in the swale the excavator made "deal" with the drainage). Yesterday we noticed that part of the hill had "slipped" into the swale, and we need to find a way to stabilize this slope. It is east facing, full sun. Would like to not have anything that needs mowing or will look totally unruly as this slope is about 20 feet away from the house, so we would also prefer not to plant any large trees. Our initial thought was for some kind of low growing ground cover, but we aren't sure of any that will hold the soil well and ones that like damp conditions. Crown vetch crossed my mind, but I planted it at my last house and it became known as the bane of my existence. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!!

ANSWER:

You are right ... there is no need to plant crown vetch when there are more suitable, native plants that will not only be attractive, but will help restore habitat in your local ecosystem.

Your plant selection will ultimately be limited by the plants you find in your local nurseries but you can begin the search by visiting our Native Plant Database.  Do a combination Search for New York selecting your light and soil conditions and the type of plant (herbaceous, grass, shrub, etc.).  The database will generate a list with links to detailed information pages.  Choose plants that spread vigorosly (especially by underground runners) and you should have the situation under control before long.

Here are some plants that could work for you:

Perennials (Herb)

Anaphalis margaritacea (western pearly everlasting)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Tradescantia ohiensis (bluejacket)

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens) 

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)


Anaphalis margaritacea

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca

Tradescantia ohiensis

Bouteloua curtipendula

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tridens flavus

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Comptonia peregrina

Rhus aromatica

Rosa carolina

Vaccinium angustifolium

 

 

 

 

 

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