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Monday - August 30, 2010

From: Fairmont, WV
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native plants for controlling erosion in Fairmont WV
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm interested in finding native plants, either perennials or grasses, that would help control erosion on a fairly steep slope. The area is partly shaded.

ANSWER:

This sounds like a candidate for a Meadow Garden. Please read our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening for more information.This will involve self-seeding annual wildflowers, perennial flowers that will come up from roots, and a variety of grasses.  Although these should probably all be seeded in the Spring in your area, which is USDA Hardiness Zone 6a, that is also a difficult time because of spring rains. To prevent seeds from washing away and then sprouting somewhere you didn't want them, we suggest you investigate an erosion control blanket. These will help to hold the soil, in which the seeds have been planted, long enough for them to sprout and begin to put down roots to hold the plant and the soil in place. Many of these blankets are biodegradable and will eventually decompose into the soil, leaving the mature plants to do the job.

We particularly recommend grasses for an eroding slope, because they have long fibrous roots that will grip the soil and keep it in place. These are not lawn grasses to be mowed, but more like prairie grasses. We will be choosing grasses that grow natively around Marion County, so they should have no problems adapting to your soil and climate. From our Native Plant Database, we will choose grasses that we feel will suit your purpose, selecting on "part shade," which we consider to be 2 to 6 hours of sun daily. From our Recommended Species for Vermont, we will also choose some herbaceous blooming plants to provide color. We will not recommend any shrubs because woody plants will take over a meadow garden if you are not vigilant. All of these will fit into the goal of having a wildflower meadow. Follow each plant link to the page in our database on that particular plant to learn what its growing conditions and moisture requirements are. You can do your own search using the same techniques, and find other plants that better suit you. 

West Virginia native grasses for erosion:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens)

West Virginia native herbaceous blooming plants for a meadow garden: 

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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