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Tuesday - June 10, 2008

From: Shaker Heights, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control on steep bank in Ohio
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Another erosion question: We bought a place a year and a half ago with a stream/road run off at the back of our property. The southern exposure bank is quite high, I'm guessing 12 feet and therefore, shady and dry. What native can we plant that may stem the terrible erosion. State Soil and Water Conservation agent was no help. He said "streams move".


First of all since your bank is steep and high, you might consider using erosion-control blankets and/or fiber or coir rolls to stabilize the erosion area. The fiber rolls and erosion-control fabric work by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediment 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. The roots of the plants 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 Department of Environmental Services, Arlington, Viriginia.

Native grasses are an excellent choice for controlling erosion because they develop extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place. Seeds can be sown under an erosion control blanket of grass plugs can be planted through the blanket. After the grasses have begun to establish themselves and stabilize the area you can add other plants. Near the stream area bushes such as the willow and buttonbush can tolerate being in very wet soil and will be effective in stabilizing the bank adjacent to the stream.

Here are some grasses and other plants that are native to Ohio and will grow in shade (<2 hours sun per day) or part shade (2-6 hours sun per day):


Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)


Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush)

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)

Salix nigra (black willow)

Bouteloua curtipendula

Elymus canadensis

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Ceanothus americanus

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Euonymus atropurpureus

Mitchella repens

Salix nigra



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