Hello Dr. Mark,
Best wishes for a speedy recovery in all ways possible from Hurricane
Before offering the traditional ground cover solutions, there is a way to
encourage water retention on your slope and maybe do something different..
"Armed with shovels, we learned the art of digging swales. The somewhat
archaic word "swale" refers to the terracing of the hillsides for the
purpose of capturing water run-off and avoiding damaging erosion. With the
use of simple leveling tools, made from bamboo and a "plumb" line with a
rock as a weight, it was possible to dig the swales while following the
contours of the hillside slope. Before we ventured out to dig swales, we
learned that the U.S. government, during the WPA projects of the 1930s, put
in many large swales in the arid regions of the Western United States. These
landforms may be seen today, still working correctly after nearly six
"The main water harvesting swales should be initially seeded to a legume
cover crop and cover with a thin mulch of straw to force germination with
minimum moisture requirement. Then fast growing legume trees planted on the
up hill side these serve the system by initial shelter from wind and by
shade greatly reducing evaporation. These trees also fix nitrogen to the
soil while greatly enhancing the surrounding soil structure particularly
down slope. They also produce large amounts of nitrogen rich mulch which can
be cut and placed as mulch around the fruit trees, this greatly reduces soil
moisture evaporation and as decomposition takes place contribute to the
fertilizing of the fruit trees also increasing soil organic matter,
improving soil structure. The legume trees should be prune for mulch at the
end of summer just prior to the autumn rains as temperatures drop and
evaporation has decreased and the system generally benefits from increased
light. After cutting these trees quickly re-sprout new twig growth and by
the beginning of the next summer when temperatures rise again and
evaporation of soil moisture is a major problem they are performing their
function of shade and wind protection. This process can be repeated year
after year as the system establishes, eventually after a few years the wood
from the larger prunings can be used for firewood for cooking or heating."
More swale images:
Easy Groundcovers for Mississippi Lawns
Your slope may not be a lawn, but it needs a ground cover that grows in your
However, you need something fast growing for this winter.
Austrian Field Pea - Pisum sativum - [check page for other erosion control
A very cold-hardy over-wintering pea; can take some sub-zero weather. Grows
on poorer soil than clover but makes less nitrogen. Doesn't compete well
with abundant Winter weed growth. Fall planting prevents winter, wind and
water erosion. Flowers later than clover, giving it an advantage since it
goes later without developing seeds. Peas only suitable as livestock feed.
Breaks down fast into soil.
You can get it in bulk sizes here:
Speckled Field Pea
The Austrian variety is usually fall planted except in extremely cold
climates where it is spring planted. Its viney growth habit provides
excellent erosion control. The Speckled Field variety is spring planted as
soon as the ground can be worked. It has an erect growth habit and is
traditionally grown with oat. Yields 4000-5000 lb/acre dry matter and 150
lb/acre nitrogen. Legume. Plant 80-150 lb/acre or 2-3.5 lb/1000 sq.ft.
In the spring....
This is one of my favourite multiple use ground cover plants:
Carraway Thyme http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/thyherbabarona.htm
is the best they say and is still in stock. Check the "In Stock" section.
Here's another: http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/oreganolawn.htm
This is a search of the MS forest commission's website for the term "erosion
Preparing for the Storm
Hurricane resistant landscapes
Native Trees for Mississippi Landscapes
at least two of these are fast growing.
This is a search of PFAF's database for plants with the term "erosion
This is a search of PFAF's database for ground cover plants with the term
This is a seach of Garden Web's forums on "erosion control"
P.S. Let me know what you did and how it turned out.:-)
My Urban Garden projects
Items wanted and Thanks
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 9:53 PM
Subject: [pfaf] Katrina damage
I have a 6 acre wooded lot that had a great cover with natural pine
straw and leaves. Hurricane Katrina destroyed about a third of my
trees. I now have large areas with all this natural cover removed by
the bulldozers and other machinery used to clean up the mess. It is
largely sloped about 10-15 degrees. There are not enough trees left to
naturally recover the aforementioned areas. I have two needs. What to
do in the immediate future for erosion. And what to plant long term
that will cover quickly. I have about decided to use pine straw
initially, but have no idea what to use long term. I do not want
grass. The area is not close to a watering source. I would like some
sort of seed of a non-flowering ground cover that will cover quickly.
Any advice appreciated.
Thanks. Dr. Mark Allen, 305 S. Archusa Ave.,Quitman, MS. 39355.