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Friday - June 26, 2009

From: Winston-Salem, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop creek bank erosion in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Hi: I live in NC where most of the dirt is clay based. I have a small creek behind my house that is eroding. The creek overflows when there is a heavy rain and as a result, gradual erosion. My goal is to plant a row of trees/shrubs for erosion control and bank stabilization along with privacy as there are houses behind me that are on top of a hill. I plan to plant on the side of the creek away from my house. I also have a smaller area to plant on the house side of the creek. I have a fence and it helps but this side is slowing eroding too. I would like to figure out how to handle this side without planting anything that blocks the view of the creek. I need help with what to plant that will cover both topics and add some natural landscaping beauty, not weedy looking and help with ideas on the house side of the creek. Please help as if I continue to loose my bank, it will move into my backyard. Thank you in advance for any ideas.


Mr. Smarty Plants found the following shrubs/small trees that do well in wet clay soil in North Carolina:

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Cornus amomum (silky dogwood)

Crataegus viridis (green hawthorn)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Salix humilis (prairie willow)

One of the best plants for preventing erosion is grass.  Grasses have extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place very well.  Here are several attractive grasses and grass-like plants that you could put underneath the shrubs or even on the side of the creek nearest your house.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Eleocharis montevidensis (sand spikerush)

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail)

Rhynchospora colorata (starrush whitetop)

Finally, here is a fern and several flowering plants that should be nice for the side of the creek nearest your house:

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Crinum americanum (seven sisters)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Cornus amomum

Crataegus viridis

Physocarpus opulifolius

Ptelea trifoliata

Salix humilis

Andropogon glomeratus

Chasmanthium latifolium

Eleocharis montevidensis

Equisetum hyemale

Rhynchospora colorata

Asclepias incarnata

Crinum americanum

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Osmunda cinnamomea



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