Soil erosion can be a major headache when water seems to wash away all
your hard work. These readers sent me some photos of a trouble spot in
QUESTION: “We have a trouble spot in our back yard. We live on a third
of an acre sown in tall fescue grass. As you can see this area is
under a fully matured oak tree. After a heavy rain we get a big wash
into this area. We have tried various types of seed and sod but to no
avail. We would appreciate any suggestions you may have to correct
this problem.” – Allen and Judy Dickey
ANSWER: After studying your pictures a bit, a few things do come to
mind. I know you have sown seed on that spot, but you might consider
trying again if, in the past, you didn’t select a grass seed
specifically for shaded areas and double checked your weather before
sowing to make sure that there is no rain in the forecast for about
one to two weeks afterwards.
When you do sow the seed be sure to cover it with a layer of straw for
protection from birds and other wildlife, wind, sun and surprise
rainfall. The straw creates a snug environment for the seed to
germinate and root securely.
Another option is to smooth the area out and plant some shade loving
plants that will not wash away such as:
You can also partially “plant” containers with flowering plants such
as hydrangeas or shade other loving perennials. At one of our homes,
sometime ago, we had a front yard full of tall oak trees. So, with all
of that shade, we dug out holes around the bases of the trees just a
little larger than the old tin coffee cans (with holes in the bottom).
With a small inventory of the same size plastic pots, we made seasonal
pots where we would drop into the tins. Pansies for early to mid
spring, impatiens for summer with shade loving mums for fall through
winter. It was a lot of work, but quite enjoyable.
These are just a few ideas that you might give a try. I hope one works
QUESTION: “I live along a large river with a lot of boat, ski traffic
all summer. I have grass to water edge with rocks to prevent erosion
which is not working. I would like to plant something that will not
obstruct my view, no higher than about 2-3 feet. I want something that
is year round and requires low maintenance. Any suggestions?” – Sue
ANSWER: It sounds as though you might need to increase the height of
the rock layer to help keep the waves from eroding more of the river
bank. Creating more of a levee with the rocks by berming them will go
a long way to break the waves from water traffic.
On the inside of the rock berm (the lawn side), sedges can be planted
which will tolerate damp soil. Their size will depend on the
particular variety that you would choose as varieties range in height
from about 12 inches to approximately 4 feet tall. I hope this helps
to give you a couple of ideas to build on.
A useful addition to any garden lover’s bookshelf is “The All-New
Illustrated Guide to Gardening” (Reader’s Digest Trade Publishing,
The editors have completely revised and updated this long-established
classic that is the go-to volume for both first-time and established
gardeners. This new edition has gone all organic for the first time.
The book is extremely comprehensive and contains thousands of
illustrations. Reader’s Digest volumes are always well designed and
logically presented and this one is no exception. Even the edges of
the pages are color-coded to allow you to thumb to the desired section
quickly. Both fun to browse through and an excellent reference. Give
it a look.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org