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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


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?


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

Peltandra virginica

Pontederia cordata

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August 16, 2011 - I want to plant Liriope 'spicata'. I know it can be aggressive and that's what I want. We live on dirt road and need something by road for help in erosion and it's also hard to mow this are...
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July 10, 2009 - I have several steep embankments on my property that are slowly eroding. What kind of plants (other than grasses, the area is not lawn mower accessible) can I plant to keep this from happening? We hav...
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December 22, 2011 - Hi - I live near Raleigh North Carolina (border of the coastal plain and Piedmont). I have about 1/2 acre that was excavated for a geothermal heating/cooling system and now I need to stabilize it a...
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August 05, 2013 - I recently cleared a fire break by removing cedar from around my home in West Austin. I'd like to plant the exposed NW facing slope with native shrubs and trees. Looking for selections that can wit...
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