Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
4 ratings

Saturday - April 02, 2011

From: Newtown Square, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Plant to stabilize a stream bank in PA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Native plants to stabilize steep stream bank in semi shade to full shade. Southeastern PA. Thanks

ANSWER:

As you embark on this project you will find this publication from the USDA National Agroforestry Center, Biotechnical Streambank Protection: The use of plants to stabilize streambanks (Agroforestry Note #23, March 2002) a very valuable resource.

Grasses are ideal for the task as they have fibrous root systems which hold the soil well.  Some will grow right up to the water's edge, others will have to be placed further up the slope.  There are also some shrubs, especially willows and dogwoods that can grow in the water at the edge of the stream.

Here are some suggestions; follow the links to detailed information pages to see their exact water and light requirements.

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem) grows well in wet areas and prefers full sun.

Andropogon virginicus (Broomsedge bluestem) is recommended for erosion control and grows in part shade.

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) grows in moist soils in sun, part shade or shade.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) prefers shade or part shade and moist soils.

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) grows along streambanks in sun or part shade.

Tripsacum dactyloides (Eastern gamagrass) likes part shade and grows in moist areas or along streambanks.

Cephalanthus occidentalis (Common buttonbush) grows in moist areas and will grow in standing water in shade or part shade.

Salix humilis (Prairie willow) grows in sun along streambanks.

Salix nigra (Black willow) grows in sun, part shade and shade along streambanks.

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry) grows in part shade and is good for erosion control in moist areas.

Alnus serrulata (Hazel alder) grows in sun, part shade and shade on stream banks and other wet areas.

Spiraea alba (White meadowsweet) grows in sun, part shade and shade in swamps, wet meadows and shorelines.

Cornus racemosa (Gray dogwood) grows in sun, part shade or shade in thickets, river bank woods; wet to dry, low, open areas

Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood) grows in part shade on river banks, lake shores in wooded or open, wet areas.

Here are some photos from our Image gallery:

 


 

More Water Gardens Questions

Best time to plant wetland plants in NY
April 19, 2010 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants - I'm working on a fresh water, shoreline wetland creation project in New York State. I've created two zones of native wetland plantings, an emergent shallow marsh zone ...
view the full question and answer

Planting instructions for horsetail
March 10, 2009 - Re: Equisetum hyemale L. Canuela, Horsetail, Scouring rush, Scouringrush horsetail I bought a 1-gal Equisetum hyemale for my seep/pond. In searching the web, I find conflicting planting instructions...
view the full question and answer

Winter tank pond care in Austin Texas
November 09, 2010 - Suggestions for winterizing a water garden in Austin Texas. Water contained in a 60 gallon aluminum horse tank. Garden contains papyrus, horsetail and water lily. There are no fish in the pond and no...
view the full question and answer

Restoring a slope in the Mississippi sandhill region
August 01, 2011 - We are building on 5 acres (leaving 60% as is, natural). Only building a small (900-1200 sq ft house) & clearing 1 acre of the valley for a pond. There is a steep slope (where we had to put field dra...
view the full question and answer

Tropical-looking landscape in Austin, TX
March 24, 2005 - I'd like to have a tropical-looking landscape in my front yard. What plants would you recommend for Austin, Texas? I would prefer plants that can stay outside year-round, but will take suggestions on...
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.