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Tuesday - January 17, 2012

From: Elysian, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Erosion Control
Title: Plants for steep lakeside bank in Minnesota
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am new to MN and would like to plant some pretty plants on my steep lakeside bank. What type plants and flowers should I plant to prevent erosion, but not block the lake view?


Grasses are very effective at controlling erosion because their extensive fibrous root systems help to hold the soil in place.   Here are a few grasses native to your area that are attractive and not particularly tall:

Bouteloua hirsuta (Hairy grama) is 10 to 18 inches tall and grows in part shade.

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple lovegrass) grows 8 to 18 inches tall.

Hordeum jubatum (Foxtail barley) grows 1 to 2 feet tall.

Koeleria macrantha (Prairie junegrass) is 1 to 2 feet tall.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) grows 18 to 24 inches.

A combination of grasses should work well to control the erosion and you can plant other colorful perennials or annuals interspersed with the grasses.  Please visit our Minnesota Recommended page to find plants that are commercially available for landscaping in the state.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to limit the HEIGHT (IN FEET) of the plants to 0-1 or 1-3.  You can also designate the type of plant and light and moisture requirements.  Here are a few suggestions from the list that you might consider:

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger) grows in shade and part shade to 4 to 8 inches high.

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood) grows in sun, part shade and shade to a height of 3 to 6 inches.

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches) grows in sun, part shade and shade to 10 inches.

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry) grows in shade and part shade to only 2 inches high.

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry) grows in sun and part shade up to 6 inches.

Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot) grows in shade and part shade to 10 inches.

Uvularia sessilifolia (Spreading bellwort) grows in sun, part shade and shade to 10-15 inches.

You might find our How to Article, Meadow Gardening, useful since with a mixture of grasses and flowers you are creating a meadow, albeit a sloping one.


From the Image Gallery

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Purple lovegrass
Eragrostis spectabilis

Foxtail barley
Hordeum jubatum

Prairie junegrass
Koeleria macrantha

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Dutchman's breeches
Dicentra cucullaria

Mitchella repens

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Sanguinaria canadensis

Spreading bellwort
Uvularia sessilifolia

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