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

Smoky Mountains Shaded Slope Plant Suggestions
April 29, 2013 - We live in a very shady spot in Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We would like to plant vegetation on a sloped area behind our cottage to stop erosion after building an addition. Our h...
view the full question and answer

O.K. to grow grass under a live oak?
November 26, 2014 - Is it a bad idea to plant grass around a mature live oak? We have erosion issues and trying to keep mulch in the beds around the tree groves is a challenge, even with edging. Much of the native dirt...
view the full question and answer

Low growing annuals for OK shaded slope.
January 26, 2016 - I have a heavily shaded slope on the north, west, and south side of my home. Can you suggest some low growing annuals (flowering, or not) that would allow me to beautify my property.
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion on creek side
July 05, 2011 - I need plants for a westside slope to a creek that will help with erosion, need fast growing and likes lots of sun. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants
view the full question and answer

Native grass and/or wildflower seed mix for erosion control in North Carolina
June 23, 2009 - I'm looking for a native grass and/or wildflower seed mix to control erosion on a new mountain road in a pine forest (red clay dirt). The soil is dry and partly shaded, depending on the hour of the d...
view the full question and answer

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