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Tuesday - October 21, 2008

From: Woodbury, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control on steep bank in Minnesota
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I have a steep slope in back yard which gets considerable rain runoff from the homes above me. What plants/shrubs/trees could I plant on the slope to stop the erosion occurring? I've had it hydroseeded, but the rills keep appearing from the water. A line of plants at the top of the slope to dissipate water?


It sounds as if you could benefit from erosion-control blankets and/or fiber or coir rolls to stabilize your slope.  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. Underneath the matting 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.  Grasses are an excellent choice for erosion control since their extensive fibrous root system is very effective in holding the soil in place.  Here are few attractive native grasses and sedges that are commercially available and grow well in Minnesota.  With the exception of the Canada wildrye which can reach 4 feet, all these grow less than 3 feet tall.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bromus kalmii (arctic brome)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Pascopyrum smithii (western wheatgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)

After you have gotten the soil stabilized you can then add wildflowers, shrubs and trees.  For a list of commercially available native plants suitable for landscape use in Minnesota, please visit our Recommended Species page and select 'Minnesota' from the map.

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua gracilis

Bromus kalmii

Carex pensylvanica

Elymus canadensis

Koeleria macrantha

Pascopyrum smithii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sporobolus heterolepis



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