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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 02, 2009

From: Low Moor, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to prevent bank erosion in Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for good native plant choices for a steep river bank. My driveway is at the top of this slope, so I will need to avoid any plants that would cause erosion. I would prefer low shrubs.

ANSWER:

Plants are the ideal solution to stop erosion, not to cause it, and Mr. Smarty Plants has some suggestions.  First of all, if your slope is really steep, you might want to consider using erosion-control blankets.  The erosion-control fabric works 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 excellent plants to use on a slope to stop the erosion because of their extensive fibrous root systems which hold the soil in place.  The challenge is to find grasses and other plants that will grow well in your space.  You can intersperse shrubs with the grass to make an attractive ground cover.  Unfortunately, I don't know what the sunlight and moisture conditions of your slope are.  I will, therefore, offer some plants that have very broad light and moisture requirements.  If some special conditions exist, you can search for your own plants by going to our Native Plant Database and doing a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing 'Virginia' and the appropriate selections from the other categories.

Grasses and sedges:

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Low-growing shrubs:

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush)


Andropogon virginicus

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Chasmanthium latifolium

Schizachyrium scoparium

Comptonia peregrina

Ceanothus americanus

Hypericum prolificum

Artemisia ludoviciana

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Erosion control for shady slope in Kentucky backyard
August 28, 2013 - I live in northern Kentucky (near Cincinnati). I have an area in my backyard that has slope. It is next to an ash tree and is very shady. Water erosion has washed away the top soil and pretty much no...
view the full question and answer

Reconsideration of previous question from Hays County TX
February 21, 2014 - QUESTION: Please reconsider this question that I sent to you last week. Our home address is in Bastrop County, but the Blanco River property that we own is in Hays County near Wimberley. Our proper...
view the full question and answer

Native plants to stop pond bank erosion
June 04, 2008 - I recently purchased a home with a small pond in which a nearby stream daylights. The former owner placed large field stone around the pond and the small stream; however, the area around the pond and...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent riverbank erosion in VA
March 05, 2011 - Looking for a plant to prevent erosion on a riverbank on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Prefer something low, bank is a bit steep for regular mowing but could be mowed infrequently. Riverbank h...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for steep slope in Knoxville, TN.
January 10, 2013 - I have several steep banks that have to be weed-eated each year every week. Do you know if there are any kinds of ground cover that would take over the weeds on these steep dangerous banks. I live in ...
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