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?


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

Thursday - May 24, 2012

From: Bracey, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Stabilizing a lakeside slope from Bracey, VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We are trying to beautify and stabilize a relatively large lakeside steep slope with a southern exposure in central Virginia. The soil is characterized by red clay and shale rock. How can we turn this into an attractive and low maintenance area that also serves to reduce erosion? Thank you in advance for your input!


Not being anxious to overstrain ourselves, we found a Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer which addresses a very similar situation in Virginia. The previous answer is from Henrico County, north of Richmond, and not far from Mecklenburg Co., where you are located, on the southern border of Virginia with North Carolina.

We believe the advice about using grasses for erosion control in the previous answer also applies here. We are going to check each one we recommend to make sure it grows natively in the Mecklenberg County area, before we list it. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to get more information on what kind of sun exposure it requires, projected height, etc. Or, you can go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination Search, search on Habit (grass or grasslike plants), stipulating the amount of sunlight, the moisture of the soil, even the height you would like.

Plants for Soil Stabilization in Bracey VA:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Carex stipata (Owlfruit sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Peltandra virginica (Green arrow arum)

Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed)


From the Image Gallery

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Peltandra virginica

Pontederia cordata

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native plants for a littoral zone in Fort Myers, Florida
June 05, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, What native plants would you recommend for the littoral zone on a pond in Fort Myers Florida? Damon's Mom
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas wildflowers indoors for a March wedding from Austin
October 01, 2013 - I have learned so much from this site! Thank you! I am getting Married this March and I am hoping to use Texas wildflowers for the centerpieces. I hope to grow them in containers indoors and have the ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Central California from Concord CA
July 19, 2012 - I live in a part of California where the summers can be very hot and dry but quite cool and wet during the rainy seasons in the wintertime. The soil around my home is very dry, rocky and infertile. I...
view the full question and answer

Plants for hanging baskets in Austin
October 06, 2009 - Can you suggest some plants for winter hanging baskets in the Austin, TX area?
view the full question and answer

Crows foot plant for Christmas wreaths from Millsboro DE
November 04, 2012 - I am looking for a plant called crows foot to make wreaths for Christmas. Where do I find this plant.
view the full question and answer

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