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

Plants for banks of a retention pond in Alabama
April 24, 2009 - What can we plant on the inner and out walls of a detention pond to stop erosion? The pond is located in a neighborhood in Mobile, AL and the walls are 9 ft high with a steep slope.
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
view the full question and answer

Erosion tolerant plants for shade from Kerrville TX
August 06, 2013 - We have just cleared a lot of cedar out of a small draw and would like to know the best groundcovers, shrubs, etc. to plant to hold the soil. Deep shade most of the day.
view the full question and answer

Long Island Barrier Beach Plants
April 22, 2013 - I live on the south shore of Long Island on a barrier beach and am landscaping my property as a result of Sandy damage. I am going with a sand base, and I am looking for suitable trees and shrubs for...
view the full question and answer

North Dakota Riverbank Stabilization
July 17, 2012 - Can you suggest plants to prevent and stabilize river bank erosion on Sheyenne River, ND? Must be tolerant to cold, varying level of salts and sulfates and water level (from drought to flooding)
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center