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

Saturday - March 05, 2011

From: Center Cross, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to prevent riverbank erosion in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Looking for a plant to prevent erosion on a riverbank on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Prefer something low, bank is a bit steep for regular mowing but could be mowed infrequently. Riverbank has been recently graded and drainage system put in, some grass present. Would like something that won't attract snakes or rodents. The less maintenance the better. Will get a lot of sun. River water will not reach the plants as they are above a seawall. What about liriope? Or a grass that won't grow too high?

ANSWER:

Well, lirope is a plant that is native to Asia and seeing as the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes we will not recommend you use liriope.

There are other useful plants that are native to your area.  Since they are adapted to your conditions (they evolved there) they will require less maintenance and will be contributing members to your local ecosystem of plants, animals, birds and insects. Grasses are ideal plants for preventing erosion on a bank as they have extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place.

You could try one of these shorter (less than 3 feet) grass and grass-like plants that are native to Virgina and will grow in full sun:

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) (this is not very ornamental but is a drought tolerant, low maintenance turf grass)

Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly) (when the dark pink seedheads of this grass are lit up by the sun in autumn it is a sight to see!)

Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed)

If you would like to mix in some lower shrubs, you could try:

Artemisia ludoviciana (Louisiana artemisia)

Hypericum frondosum (Cedarglade st. johnswort)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry) (this will grow in the sun even though our photo shows it in a woodland setting)

As far as attracting rodents (and thus snakes) goes, sorry,we can't make any promises. All sorts of critters live in balance in a healthy ecosystem!


Bouteloua dactyloides


Ammophila breviligulata


Carex texensis


Muhlenbergia capillaris

 

 


Sporobolus heterolepis


Artemisia ludoviciana


Hypericum frondosum


Rosa carolina


Vaccinium angustifolium

 

 

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Plants for a bare clay slope in North Carolina
December 22, 2011 - Hi - I live near Raleigh North Carolina (border of the coastal plain and Piedmont). I have about 1/2 acre that was excavated for a geothermal heating/cooling system and now I need to stabilize it a...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in horse pasture
April 26, 2010 - I have erosion on a slope, southwestern facing, minimal shade in Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA. The soil is rocky and clayish. The hillside is in the middle of a horse paddock and barn. What plants woul...
view the full question and answer

Plants Needed for a Shaded, Rocky Slope in Alabama
July 06, 2016 - I live in Alabama where the soil is clay and rocky. I've tried planting on a rocky slope I have but, it's also shaded. Not even Juniper will survive on this slope. I've spent thousands of dollars tryi...
view the full question and answer

Stopping Soil Erosion on a Slope
May 13, 2013 - I live in Bonaire, GA and have a slope in my back yard. The soil is red clay and it gets sun most of the day. A small section of this slope tends to have a mudslide to the bottom of the slope. How ...
view the full question and answer

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