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Thursday - September 06, 2007

From: Maple Valley, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Erosion control plantings in Washington state
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, I am trying to do an eagle project that involves putting vegetation onto a hill to prevent erosion. I live in Washington state where there is plenty of rain so erosion is a big problem. We are trying to work with dirt that rarely gets watered except by rain, and is extremely rocky. What kinds of plants would hold together a hillside and could be planted in abundance for cheap?

ANSWER:

The best plants for controlling erosion are grasses because of their extensive fibrous root systems. Below are grasses native to King County Washington that should work well for your project.

Agrostis exarata (spike bentgrass)

Bromus carinatus (California brome)

Danthonia californica (California oatgrass)

Deschampsia caespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Dichanthelium acuminatum var. fasciculatum (western panicgrass)

Elymus glaucus (blue wildrye) — especially recommended for erosion control

Festuca occidentalis (western fescue)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

The cheapest way to carry out your project is by sowing grass seeds. However, since you would be sowing the seeds on a hillside, rain is likely to wash the seeds away before they have had a chance to germinate. You might be able to find grass plugs available for sale. They will be more expensive than the seeds but would have a better chance of setting their roots before rain could wash them away. Another (alas, more expensive) possibility is to use erosion control blankets to stabilize the erosion area. The erosion-control fabric works by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediments to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. You can insert plants into the soil by cutting through the matting. The roots of the plants that are growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem. You can read about a stream bank stabilization project implemented by the Department of Environmental Services, Arlington, Viriginia.

You can check our National Suppliers Directory for possible sources in your area for grasses and grass seeds.

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants to stop erosion on creek side
July 05, 2011 - I need plants for a westside slope to a creek that will help with erosion, need fast growing and likes lots of sun. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants
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Plants to prevent riverbank erosion in NY
October 03, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm doing research into riverbank erosion in Broome County, NY, and I was wondering if you had some sort of resource that would be able to tell me which species of grasses...
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January 31, 2010 - My yard on Escambia Bay in NW Florida was stripped of good plants and topsoil by a 4 foot tidal surge in Hurricane Ivan. I have made some plantings, but am just now getting the entire property cleare...
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Plants to hold a slope in Northern New York
December 10, 2009 - I'm looking for native (South shore, Lake Ontario) plants to slow erosion on a steep, 20 foot bank. They don't have to be decorative (although flowering plants are always nice), but they should SPRE...
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Plants to control hillside erosion in Virginia.
November 21, 2007 - Good Morning, Mr Smarty Plants, I need your advice and guidance. I live in a condo complex in Virginia and we have a hill/slope that is eroding. It also has two very nice tall trees that partially sh...
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