En EspaŅol

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 28, 2011

From: lackawaxen, PA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Water Gardens, Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation under the oaks and beach trees. There are plenty of deer and other critters about that might complicate the choice.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants suggests that if you have a persistently wet area, consider Juncus effusus (Common rush), a species that will grow in water-saturated soil. I would plant the lower stream bank with sedges, which, unlike most grasses, will thrive in shade. Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) or Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge) should form a dense turf that resists soil erosion.  Patches of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) at this level would provide color.   A bit farther up the bank, I recommend Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and  Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper).  Either of these will produce a dense ground cover, with Virginia creeper remaining at ground level if there are no nearby trees or shrubs to climb.  Flowering plants to consider include Campanula rotundifolia (Bluebell bellflower), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower), and Claytonia caroliniana (Carolina springbeauty).  An understory small tree, Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud) might complement the other species.  If the upper bank is usually quite dry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick) will create a solid ground cover.

Check out this list of local suppliers for the species recommended above.  Once established, these plantings should solve the problem of erosion threatened by both large and small storms.  The ground covers and sedges are resistant to deer herbivory.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common rush
Juncus effusus

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Eastern woodland sedge
Carex blanda

Eastern red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Virginia creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Bluebell bellflower
Campanula rotundifolia

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Carolina springbeauty
Claytonia caroliniana

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

More Erosion Control Questions

Groundcover for Bonsall, CA
October 17, 2012 - I live in Bonsall, CA. (San Diego) I have 3 acres, flat and sloped that are graded dirt. (DG and sheep poop from previous owner). It is getting close to mud season and I'd like to plant winter cover...
view the full question and answer

Slope Erosion control for Fairview NC
August 19, 2012 - Please recommend plants to help with soil erosion on a slope. The soil is red clay and area gets full sun. The slope is approximately 12' x 12'. I live in Fairview, NC
view the full question and answer

Plants for a hillside in WI
February 18, 2012 - I live in Wisconsin and am currently doing a research project on plant variation on the north and south sides of a hill. I was wondering you could suggest any books to me that would address this issue...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for erosion control in sand on coastal Georgia
May 01, 2011 - I've been tasked with identifying native grass varieties or mixes (Coastal Georgia) that can be used for erosion control on sandy slopes created from dredged river sediment and that receive lots of s...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs and small trees for a slope in NY
May 21, 2012 - We are looking for a living wall made of shrubs / small trees - no more than 25' for the top of a steep creek bed. We are looking for the best erosion preventing types.
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center