Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Monday - July 18, 2011

From: Manchester, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for a property near a conservation area in MD
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Can you tell me what native plants and the type of landscaping that would be good to plant in front of a forest conservation area that is on a steep hill behind our future house? It is located in Manchester, MD.

ANSWER:

We are really delighted to see new homeowners concerned about the impact their landscape will have on an adjacent natural area. The best thing you can do is take cues from nature. Spend the season exploring in the conservation area with field guides identifying plants.  Look at how nature arranges the plants.

You can learn more about what plants are native to your area by visiting out Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search for Maryland.  You can create lists of plants that are linked to detailed information pages.  You can also check the Recommended Species for Maryland for a list of plants that are known to be readily available in the nursery trade and suitable for a home garden setting.

Check out the website of the Maryland Native Plant Society and consider joining a local chapter. The people you meet will be a great resource as you embark on the project.  Their website has a wealth of information including a list of Native Plant Nurseries. We also have nurseries affiliated with the Wildflower Center that you can find on our Suppliers page.

When you get to the stage of planning and planting on the slope you will want to consider using shrubs and perennials that spread by stolons and native ornamental grasses whose fibrous root systems are particularly adept at stabilizing a slope.

The organization that maintains your conservation area probably has plant lists and plenty of advice as well.  Before you plant, you would be well advised to check with them that you are choosing plants that will not spread into their area and displace the delicate plant communities they are trying to protect.

Here are a few plants we think might be suitable:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

Ceanothus americanus (New jersey tea)

Comptonia peregrina (Sweet fern)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

New jersey tea
Ceanothus americanus

Sweet-fern
Comptonia peregrina

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native plants for morning sun in Pembroke MA
October 07, 2009 - Could you please suggest native groundcover,plants/shrubs/grasses for eastern facing slope which gets morning sun? It is my front yard which slopes down toward driveway so it would be a major focal po...
view the full question and answer

Plants That Thrive Under Trees in Texas
April 06, 2011 - I have a flower bed with dense shade (under a mature maple tree and a large mature bottle brush) located on the Galveston/Harris county line just off of Clear Lake. The bed has sprinklers and drains w...
view the full question and answer

Native alternative for liriope
September 20, 2011 - I am looking for native alternatives to liriope for use in sun to part shade, moderate moisture planting beds. Would prefer evergreen options.
view the full question and answer

Grass for detention pond in Illinois
October 06, 2008 - Hi, please advise regarding grass for bottom of detention pond. I have pond with drawdown time 4 days, what grass could survive being underwater 4 days, and not die? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants for a sandy slope at a weekend cabin in central WI.
June 30, 2009 - I have a cabin in central Wisconsin where the soil is equivalent to a sandy beach. There are some areas that are nearly impossible to mow because of how steep the incline is. Could you recommend som...
view the full question and answer

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