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Thursday - April 21, 2011

From: Ipava, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants for erosion control in IL
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Steep 40ft slope in rural Illinois with Sandy soil. Recently several trees slid down this slope due to wet conditions. We need any inexpensive plants to hold the hillside in check before erosion creeps and causes cabin damage.


Your best bet are ornamental grasses.  Their fibrous root systems make them drought tolerant (a necessity in the quick draining, sandy conditions you describe) and help them hold the soil.  There are also a number of native prairie wildflowers that fit the bill and will help transfrm your slope from a liability to a native meadow planting that is not only pretty to look at, but provides wildlife habitat as well.

You can generate lists of native plants by visiting our Native Plant Database and doing a Combination Search. Select: Illinois/grasses(or herbaceous plants) and the light and soil conditions.  I suspect that even though you had a slide due to wet conditions, once you have the slope stablilized the conditions will actually be dry due to rapid drainage from the steep slope and sandy soil.

You will ultimately be limited by what plants are available in the nurseries but here are some plants from those lists we think will work for you:


Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass)

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Calamagrostis canadensis (Bluejoint)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly)

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Perennials (wildflowers)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Centaurea americana (American basket-flower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Liatris aspera var. intermedia (Intermediate rough gayfeather)

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (Narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan)

Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod)

Ammophila breviligulata

Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon glomeratus

Calamagrostis canadensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Panicum virgatum


Aquilegia canadensis

Centaurea americana

Coreopsis lanceolata


Liatris aspera var. intermedia

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca

Rudbeckia hirta

Solidago canadensis








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