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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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Monday - July 05, 2010

From: Kenna, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for bridge foundation erosion control in WV .
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

There is a stream on my property that I must cross to get to my house from the road (stream is about 6 - 8 feet wide, with 5 to 6 foot banks). I've recently had to have the bridge repaired, and the contractor poured a lot of concrete down the stream bank where it had washed away from the end of the bridge. What is the best thing to plant on the bank to disguise the ugly concrete mass as well as help keep the bank from washing away when the creek floods? The creek is at the bottom of a west facing hill in a narrow valley.

ANSWER:

The foundations of bridges are very important to the structural integrity and safe operation of the bridges they support.  You should consult with a structural or civil engineer about the foundation of your bridge to determine whether or not it is sufficient for the location and for the structure it's supporting.

If the foundation is adequate, then planting grasses and similar plants to minimize erosion is a good idea.  Grasses are most often prescribed for erosion control because of their fibrous and extensive root systems.  Native sedges and other grass-like plants are also very often useful in situations like yours.  The specific plants you use will depend on local conditions.

 

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