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
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

Dealing with rain runoff on a slope in Austin
March 24, 2012 - Our lawn is a year old and slopes at about a 45 degree angle with a lot of small holes and tiny gullies from water run-off. I have tried packing them with soil, but it washes away in the rain. Would ...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs for erosion protection in Arlington TX
March 29, 2010 - We live on Johnson Creek in Arlington, Tx. We have recently had to move our fenceline in because the erosion on the creek has collapsed a portion of our retaining wall. I would like to plant somethi...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
view the full question and answer

California native bunch grasses good for erosion control
November 21, 2010 - In response to your answer about deep rooted native plants good for erosion control, don't forget to include native bunchgrasses. here in California, our bunchgrasses have roots that go 10ft, 20ft de...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for a slope in MD
August 04, 2011 - Looking for a groundcover to hold a shady slope undercut with tree roots in Maryland and to prevent further erosion.
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