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
2 ratings

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 





 

More Erosion Control Questions

Stabilizing a sand bank in VT
August 13, 2011 - We have a summer cottage in Burlington, Vt. and need to stabilize a mound of sand. The "bank" we are trying to stabilize has partial sun and faces south. It measures approx 4' high and is 30' long...
view the full question and answer

Exposed Tree Roots in Austin
September 04, 2012 - I have a large ash tree with a lot of mud at the top of a sloping yard. I want to build a small retaining wall with the ground leveled above. This would entail covering exposed tree roots with 4-18 in...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a bank in PA
April 28, 2012 - I live in Landisburg, PA, (zone 6). I need to find some ground cover for a primarily full sun bank that is roughly 10-12' down over the embankment and up to 100' long. This area wraps around our po...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a steep slope in New York
June 27, 2010 - We just installed a swimming pool in our back yard, which is at the top of a south facing slope. After the pool was installed the slope is now 3 ft higher and very steep (unmowable). I'd guess steepe...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control blankets for controlling slope in North Carolina
April 11, 2007 - We live in NC (red clay dirt). We recently/in the process of installing a pool. They contractor has completely unearthed our entire yard - and part of our property is on a substantial hill. Is there...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center