En Español

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

Low-growing plants for steep bank to prevent erosion
March 24, 2010 - We recently bought a house (6 months ago) in Memphis, TN that backs up to a concrete drainage ditch. There is a fairly steep, mostly shaded bank that leads from the flat section of the back yard to th...
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent bank erosion in Virginia
April 02, 2009 - I am looking for good native plant choices for a steep river bank. My driveway is at the top of this slope, so I will need to avoid any plants that would cause erosion. I would prefer low shrubs.
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in IL
April 21, 2011 - Steep 40ft slope in rural Illinois with Sandy soil. Recently several trees slid down this slope due to wet conditions. We need any inexpensive plants to hold the hillside in check before erosion creep...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for Connecticut sandy gravel bank
January 11, 2012 - What ground cover plant can I use on a sandy gravel bank behind my house?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center