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
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


Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Awlfruit sedge
Carex stipata

Indigo bush
Amorpha fruticosa

Redosier dogwood
Cornus sericea

Silver buffaloberry
Shepherdia argentea

More Erosion Control Questions

Native grasses for erosion control in Harlingen, TX
March 12, 2009 - I like to know what type of fast growing grass, ground cover or trees I can put on a slope for erosion control in Harlingen Texas the slope receives afternoon Sun
view the full question and answer

Stabilizing a sand bank in VT
August 13, 2011 - We have a summer cottage in Burlington, Vt. and need to stabilize a mound of sand. The "bank" we are trying to stabilize has partial sun and faces south. It measures approx 4' high and is 30' long...
view the full question and answer

Plants for erosion control in IL
April 21, 2011 - Steep 40ft slope in rural Illinois with Sandy soil. Recently several trees slid down this slope due to wet conditions. We need any inexpensive plants to hold the hillside in check before erosion creep...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control from Lakeland FL
November 03, 2012 - What native Ground cover is best for erosion control on slope of lake-front? Prefer not too invasive for this northern facing area behind a seawall and near large Oak tree.
view the full question and answer

Riverbank retention in VA
March 26, 2012 - 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 y...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center