En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Tuesday - June 17, 2008

From: Newport News, VA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop erosion on land near lake
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My back yard runs down to the lake. The water is eroding my land. I want plants & flowers [full sun]that can be planted to stop the erosion and add color. Another question: We have a huge oak tree in our front yard. We have had the hardest time getting grass to grow around that area. What do you suggest? We live in Newport News, VA.

ANSWER:

Grasses are going to be the most effective plants to stop the erosion. Their fibrous root systems are excellent for holding the soil in place. After the grasses have stabilized the erosion, you can add wildflowers and shrubs, if you like. Here are some grasses and sedges that should do well in your lawn to stop the erosion.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) grows well in moist areas in full sun and is attractive when green and after it has matured

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) grows well in sun and grows only to about 12 inches without mowing

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Muhlenbergia cuspidata (plains muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Rhynchospora colorata (starrush whitetop) will do well next to the shoreline in the wettest soil

I think it is the constant shade that is affecting the growth of grasses under your oak tree. Some tree species can inhibit the growth of plants beneath them by chemicals released from leaves, roots and fallen debris (e.g., Juglans nigra, black walnut), a process called allelopathy. You can read about the "Potential Allelopathy in Different Tree Species". You don't say which oak you have, but several of oaks on that list in the "Strongest Effect" category do occur in Virginia (Quercus falcata (southern red oak), Quercus marilandica (blackjack oak), Quercus rubra (northern red oak), and Quercus stellata (post oak)). If your oak is one of these species, you can help your situation by keeping the oak leaf, twig, and acorn litter raked from under the tree. Also, you should try grasses that do well in the shade. Here are a few suggestions, some of which are recommended for stopping erosion above:

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)


Andropogon glomeratus

Bouteloua dactyloides

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia cuspidata

Schizachyrium scoparium

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Carex stipata

Carex texensis

Rhynchospora colorata

Bouteloua curtipendula

Chasmanthium latifolium

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Low growing erosion control plants for lakeside in Washington Township NJ
May 12, 2013 - I live on a small lake in Northern NJ and have installed beautiful Boulders along the water to help stop erosion. Now I want to add plants along the property but would like low growing, soil retentio...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for a Sunny, Steep Slope in Maryland
April 29, 2013 - I need a groundcover for a sunny dry steep slope in Towson, Maryland. The slope goes from the parking lot down to a deck area.
view the full question and answer

Plants for pond, for incline and area with poor soil
April 23, 2012 - I have three plant recommendation questions for Austin, TX. 1. I have a large pond that I would like to put native aquatic plants in. What are some hardy aquatic natives I could put in? The pond ...
view the full question and answer

Riverbank retention in VA
March 26, 2012 - I need some groundcover/bank retention for a Virginia riverbank in mixed sun and shade. I want to plant something native to VA. the area is out of the water but subject to occasional (4-5 times per y...
view the full question and answer

How to stabilize a slope under Red Oaks?
March 19, 2013 - A portion our front "yard" (20x40 feet) is a limestone hillside shaded by 3 large spanish oaks. The small amount of grass holding onto the hillside is now gone from the drought, and the hill has er...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center