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Monday - April 09, 2012

From: Henrico, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Erosion Control in a Mid-Atlantic Shoreline
Answered by: Janice Kvale

QUESTION:

My family owns a riverfront property off of Machodoc Creek which runs into the Potomac on the Virginia side. The water is roughly 3 feet deep at the shoreline and concrete cylinders are used to control erosion. Those, however, keep wearing down and my family is interested in planting native plants to help control erosion. The concrete cylinders will remain in place. They don't want the view obstructed so it would have to be something 3' tall or less. The ground does get wet from occasional high tides. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Erosion control nearly always means you are looking for grass or grass-like plants such as sedges or rushes that have an extensive root system to hold soil or sand. In addition, you need a plant that can withstand occasional tidal flooding of brackish or fresh water. The ones listed here are all are 3 feet or less tall and meet the above mentioned criteria.

You may want to do more surfing on your own, especially to note which plants are better for the amount of light available in your location and other characteristics that they may have. In addition to our Plant Database, the following are sites that may be particularly helpful:

http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=4126 is a previously answered Mr. Smarty Plants question that contains relevant information for your problem and directions on searching for solution species.

http://www.nps.gov/plants/pubs/chesapeake/pdf/chesapeakenatives.pdf is a lengthy pamphlet published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service containing recommended species for wet areas that may have brackish water, with a focus on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

http://vnps.org/sites/default/files/VNPSState/files/VNPSTable%20Nurseries_0.pdf has an extensive list of suppliers of native plants in Virginia. In addition, our site lists these suppliers in Virginia.

http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/documents/cp_nat_plants.pdf is another list of native plants from the Virginia Department of Conservation.

In addition, the Henrico Public Works Department has an Environmental Department staff to help you with questions regarding wetlands and Resource Protection Area (RPA) issues; you can call them at (804) 501-4393.

Here are the plants that we found:

 

From the Image Gallery


American beach grass
Ammophila breviligulata

Roundseed panicgrass
Dichanthelium sphaerocarpon

Carolina sealavender
Limonium carolinianum

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Green arrow arum
Peltandra virginica

Pickerelweed
Pontederia cordata

More Erosion Control Questions

Ground cover for steep slope in Washington DC
May 07, 2010 - We have a steep slope in our garden in Washington DC which has sun from noon to sun set. Could you please recommend some low maintenance plants which would be a good ground cover and limit erosion?
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Plants for steep clay bank in Summerfield OH
April 07, 2012 - Hello, We have a steep 15-20 foot high bank behind our house here in southern Ohio. Probably 50 ft.long. What could we plant for beauty and erosion control. It is nasty clay soil with lots of shale an...
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Plants for erosion control in Georgia
May 17, 2010 - Hello, I have a question regarding water run-off coming from the neighbors yard as my yard is below their yard. What kind of ground cover would grow very quickly (low to ground) to help with the r...
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Virginia creeper in trees
April 26, 2008 - Can Virginia creeper be allowed to climb on trees--specifically Texas ash and live oak--or will it damage them if allowed to attach itself? We are thinking of using it as erosion control in a greenbe...
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Plants for bridge foundation erosion control in WV .
July 05, 2010 - There is a stream on my property that I must cross to get to my house from the road (stream is about 6 - 8 feet wide, with 5 to 6 foot banks). I've recently had to have the bridge repaired, and the ...
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