Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 26, 2010

From: Dixon, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control along creek that often floods
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What would be good ground cover to plant along the bank of a storm creek and the river it runs into? Previous owner killed all the poison oak and garlic mustard all over the yard, but whatever he tried to replace it with is gone. My yard keeps eroding away. The half acre is flooded 3 months out of the year, so it has to be something that will be OK under ice or water that long. Located in northern Illinois.

ANSWER:

Grasses and grass-like plants are excellent for controlling erosion because their extensive fibrous root systems are able to hold soils in place so effectively.  You will need grasses, however, that can tolerate standing in water or very wet soil most of the time.  For all the plants listed below you will need to check other GROWING CONDITIONS on the species page for such criteria as Light Requirement and Soil Descrition to be sure that they match your site.  Here are several possibilities:

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge)

Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass)

Acorus calamus (calamus)

Equisetum hyemale var. affine (scouringrush horsetail)

There are several shrubs and herbaceous perennials that can tolerate growing in standing water.  Here are a few:

Alnus serrulata (hazel alder)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

Viburnum nudum (possumhaw)

Aruncus dioicus (bride's feathers)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Andropogon glomeratus

Calamagrostis canadensis

Carex stipata

Carex vulpinoidea

Deschampsia cespitosa

Alnus serrulata

Acorus calamus

Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Spiraea alba

Viburnum nudum

Aruncus dioicus

Osmunda cinnamomea

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Need plants for a slope in KY.
September 29, 2012 - I have a slope in my back yard that is mostly a slate shelf, grass and Weeds will grow but not well, very spotty. I am wanting a ground cover that blooms. Would like to not have to mow. This is a ve...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to control erosion in Montgomery County, Texas
February 24, 2014 - I am looking for some kind of ground cover to control erosion on a north facing slope in Montgomery County, Texas. The area gets very little direct sunlight. I need something that will establish quick...
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance, native plants for sloping drive near Philadelphia
October 20, 2004 - My cabin is located in the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. I am looking for low maintenance plants that would look good on the sides of a driveway that slopes upward. This is a potential project fo...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for erosion control in sun in Canton PA
August 03, 2010 - We just cleared a bank and need native plants and shrubs to grow for erosion control. Much sun. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Plants for curb appeal from Birmingham AL
June 16, 2011 - My front yard is on a down hill slope. Can you recommend some plants that would be good for creating curb appeal that will be planted up against the house? We need some that are short around 2 feet ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.