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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - March 19, 2010

From: Sarnia, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for a sloped pond bank in SW Ontario
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I'm looking for native (Southwestern Ontario, Canada) plants to slow erosion and provide a nice appearance on a mildly steep, 20 foot bank leading to a large pond. The bank faces west. And, are trees a possibility, given the mild nature of the slope? And if so, how close to the water's edge should trees be planted?

ANSWER:

This sounds like a challenging but very worthwhile project. It is a great opportunity to plant a "habitat" garden that will reflect the ecosystem of your area, improve the water quality of the pond, increase biodiversity and turn your pond into your best garden feature!

The plants you ultimately select and install will depend on the "sense of place" you are trying to evoke and the plants that are available in the trade, but we do have some suggestions.  The short answer is, you will want to select as many plants as possible with fibrous root systems (grasses, perennials, shrubs) and yes, you can plant trees if you choose ones that are adapted to that kind of environment (that is, you would find them growing near the water's edge in nature).

You will find the Evergreen.ca database a huge help.  You can search for Ontario plants that are appropriate for your conditions and it will generate a list for you. For instance, when I selected Ontario, native species only, pond edge/wetland and erosion control it generated a list of 32 different plants to choose from. You can change the search according to the plant type and other conditions.  As you select plants for higher on the bank, you will select drier soil conditions. You can also choose plants that attract brids and butterflies and make other specifications.

Although our Native Plant database does not have quite an extensive search function, you can do a Combination Search for Ontario, selecting the conditions of your site (first wet, for near the water and then dry for the top of the bank).

Here are a few from the list for wet conditions that are among my favourites:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)

Eupatorium purpureum (sweetscented joepyeweed)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Vernonia fasciculata (prairie ironweed)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)


Amelanchier canadensis

Ilex verticillata

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Physocarpus opulifolius

Spiraea alba

Chelone glabra

Eupatorium purpureum

Iris versicolor

Monarda didyma

Vernonia fasciculata

Calamagrostis canadensis

Carex stipata

 

 

 

 

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