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

Monday - March 26, 2012

From: Charlottesville, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Rain Gardens, Erosion Control
Title: Riverbank retention in VA
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I need some groundcover/bank retention for a Virginia riverbank in mixed sun and shade. I want to plant something native to VA. the area is out of the water but subject to occasional (4-5 times per year) flooding. Rocky,sandy soil. When it floods it sometimes leaves sand, but more often removes it, which is why I want to plant something to retain the soil and help prevent erosion. Thank you very much.

ANSWER:

The best plants to stabilize a bank and prevent erosion are plants like grasses that have fibrous root systems and shrubs and perennials that spread with runners to form thickets.

You can find suitable plants by doing a Combination Search on our Native Plant database.  Select Virginia, the plant habit and your conditions (part shade).  It sounds like the soil is quite dry except when it floods, so select dry conditions.  The list that is generated has links to detailed information pages for each plant.  You can then check which plants are adaptable enough to tolerate the wet conditions of flooding as well.

As your conditions are very much like those in a rain garden, you will find a very informative article the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has published about rain gardens as well as a plant list , helpful. You can cross reference between the lists you generate and those on their list.

Here are a few plants to consider:

Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)

Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)

Grasses with deep fibrous roots:

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)

Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

 

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Fragrant sumac
Rhus aromatica

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

More Rain Gardens Questions

Smarty Plants on water-absorbing plants
July 19, 2005 - I am looking for water-absorbing plants for L.A. zone. I am hoping this type of vegetation would ease the water retention problem at the planter right next to my basement. Is this a feasible solutio...
view the full question and answer

Expanding clay soils near rain garden
May 11, 2009 - I want to put a rain garden in my yard in central TX (Kyle). My subdivision architectural review committee expressed concerns about the expansive clay soils becoming saturated and possibly shortening...
view the full question and answer

Managing a wet area in Austin
November 18, 2013 - I suspect that my backyard lies at the very top of a creek watershed. However, all of the water flowing through it gets blocked by a solid stone wall. Whenever we get a significant rain event, part ...
view the full question and answer

Looking for native plants for a rain garden in Arlington, TX.
March 12, 2012 - I am looking for native Texas plants that would do well in rain gardens. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bioswale or rain garden
January 06, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, What plants do you recommend for a bioswale or rain garden in Austin, Texas?
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