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Mr. Smarty Plants - Plants for erosion control in arid region

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Monday - September 29, 2008

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control in arid region
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

In semi arid south west (Phoenix), the drainage is managed by creating incised channels. Typically, the dirt channel can erode with even very low velocities of moving water. To reduce erosion therefore vegetation needs to be established. This is difficult due to lack of adequate and consistent rain runoff. Any suggestion on what kind of vegetation ( ground cover, grass etc) could be used so that gradually it establishes (with minimum infrequent rain) a strong root structure causing a stable environment for handling rain runoff.

ANSWER:

Grasses would be your best bet for erosion control since their extensive fibrous root systems do a good job of holding the soil.  Here is a list of grasses that are native to Arizona and will withstand dry conditions.  To get them established you may have to do some minimal watering at first, but then they should be able to handle dry conditions and hold the soil when it rains.

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn)

Bouteloua eriopoda (black grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Eragrostis intermedia (plains lovegrass)

Dasyochloa pulchella (low woollygrass)

Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (curly-mesquite)

Muhlenbergia emersleyi (bullgrass)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Here are some suggestions for low growing shrubs that would also do well in the area.  You will note that some are specifically suggested for erosion control.

Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort)

Calliandra eriophylla (fairyduster)

Krascheninnikovia lanata (winterfat)

Melampodium leucanthum (plains blackfoot)

Zinnia grandiflora (Rocky Mountain zinnia)

Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume)

If you would like to see more native plants that are commercially available for Arizona, visit our Recommended Species page and select Arizona from the map there.


Achnatherum hymenoides

Bouteloua eriopoda

Dasyochloa pulchella

Sporobolus airoides

Artemisia frigida

Calliandra eriophylla

Krascheninnikovia lanata

Melampodium leucanthum

Zinnia grandiflora

Fallugia paradoxa

 

 

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