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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


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


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:

Andropogon glomeratus

Andropogon virginicus

Carex blanda

Chasmanthium latifolium

Panicum virgatum

Tripsacum dactyloides

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Salix humilis

Salix nigra

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Alnus serrulata

Spiraea alba

Cornus racemosa

Cornus sericea



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