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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

Green arrow arum
Peltandra virginica

Pontederia cordata

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Plants to prevent creekside erosion in Nacogdoches County, Texas
December 09, 2014 - I am looking for some advice on plants native to Texas that can help prevent erosion. I own a wooded lot with a creek and would like to consolidate the sides of the creek against potential erosion. I...
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Native border plants to stop erosion
February 18, 2015 - I need native border plants to assist in stopping soil erosion due to water run off from rain and the Catawba River.
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Plants to stop erosion in Arizona
January 17, 2009 - I'm looking for a plant to stop erosion; I have big wash outs that are starting to erode my yard so I guess I'm looking for deep rooting plants. I live south of Tucson, Arizona. If you can advise me...
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Ground cover to control hillside erosion in Illinois
May 04, 2014 - I have seen some other questions regarding native plants for erosion control, but I am looking specifically for plants that will do well on a hill in partial to full shade. I am told the soil in our a...
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