Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
6 ratings

Tuesday - July 17, 2012

From: Valley CIty, ND
Region: Midwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: North Dakota Riverbank Stabilization
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Can you suggest plants to prevent and stabilize river bank erosion on Sheyenne River, ND? Must be tolerant to cold, varying level of salts and sulfates and water level (from drought to flooding)

ANSWER:

That’s quite a challenge!   Happily the basic approach to stabilize a riverbank works independent of the climate.  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. All we need to do then is to use the North Dakota list of recommended species to choose native plants which will stand up to the North Dakota climate.

For further reading on the subject, this Mr Smarty Plants answer was to a similar question from Wisconsin, and this one from Nebraska.  Another similar question had this well targeted reference:  “As you embark on this project you will find this publication from the USDA National Agroforestry Center, Biotechnical Streambank Protection: The use of plants to stabilize streambanks (Agroforestry Note #23, March 2002) a very valuable resource.”

Looking to recommendations for your specific situation - Grasses that may be useful [from the North Dakota Collection] include:
Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
Carex stipata (Owlfruit sedge)
Do check out the list as there are fourteen grasses in the recommended species, these appeared to be well suited to spreading aggressively by rhizomes and the possibility of occasional flooding.

When looking at Shrubs or small trees I was attracted to those that had indications of Stream Bank Habitat, ones that aggressively sucker, or ones that were explicitly listed as hardy:
Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo bush)
Corylus americana (American hazelnut)
Cornus sericea (Redosier dogwood)
Salix discolor (Pussy willow)
Shepherdia argentea (Silver buffaloberry)
Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea

Silver buffaloberry
Shepherdia argentea

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Non-native, invasive bermudagrass from Memphis TN
August 17, 2012 - I live in central Memphis and have well-drained clay soil. I have converted much of the front yard from turf grass to beds of native plants, which survive our hot humid without supplemental watering e...
view the full question and answer

Identification of native wild grass in Austin
February 01, 2009 - I had some landscaping done in my yard in Austin. My aim was minimal care so I requested native Texas plants. I am plant illiterate and just now looking in the City of Austin "grow green guide" to...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for morning sun in Pembroke MA
October 07, 2009 - Could you please suggest native groundcover,plants/shrubs/grasses for eastern facing slope which gets morning sun? It is my front yard which slopes down toward driveway so it would be a major focal po...
view the full question and answer

Need help fighting grass burs in La Grange, TX.
January 22, 2013 - I have 4 acres of wildflowers planted in my front yard. Unfortunately, grassburs have crept in & I need to control them with a pre-emergent. Will this keep the wildflowers from blooming? Also, would l...
view the full question and answer

Native plants and grasses for river bank from Rosanky TX
February 19, 2014 - Our property owners association would like to know what native plants/grasses to plant on the Blanco River bank in our river park to help prevent erosion. Some banks are steep and some areas are a gra...
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.