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
8 ratings

Thursday - August 16, 2012

From: Bryan, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Stream Bank Erosion Control for Bryan/College Station
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I live in the Bryan/College Station area and need a ground cover to abate erosion on the bank of an intermittent stream. The bank is shaded. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Sure, Mr Smarty Plants has lots of suggestions.  As a general approach, 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.  Here are three previous answers that will give you an idea of some choices.  This one is a very similar question about a stream bed in Bastrop TX.  Here is an answer addressing the banks of the Colorado near Austin, TX.  If the area is more dry and/or if you may have concerns about deer, this answer had that combination.

  I also like to scan native plants that might be a better fit for this specific situation than those suggested previously.  Here is a link to the Blackland Prairies Collection.  These collections can be sorted for attributes of interest.  I selected “grasses or grass-like” and plants that could handle shade or partial shade.  A little bit of reading will get you a large amount of information about specific plants.  For instance, if you need a quick initial cover and serious erosion control, then Andropogon virginicus (Broomsedge bluestem) or Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye) can be quite effective.  If the bank is truly shaded then perhaps you may want Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), it will handle most local environments

  Finally, in the spirit of using native plants for what they are good for – it seems to me that selecting and encouraging grasses that are found in stream banks ought to give you well adapted solutions!  These four grasses had specific mention of a stream bank habitat, yet not all of them needed high levels of moisture:
Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
Tripsacum dactyloides (Eastern gamagrass)
Setaria parviflora (Marsh bristlegrass)
Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense (Jamaica swamp sawgrass)

 

From the Image Gallery


Broomsedge bluestem
Andropogon virginicus

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Jamaica swamp sawgrass
Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense

More Erosion Control Questions

Landscaping for slope in Kansas City
October 08, 2008 - We have a down sloping back yard and patio on the lower area. We need some water absorbing plants near the foundation and some in the front of the house, where water isn't a problem. We are allergic ...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

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?
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize a steep bank in South Carolina
January 09, 2010 - I would like to use native plantings to stabilize a steep bank. The bank is on the side of the gravel road I cut back into the woods and around a 36" pipe going under the road to allow the free flow ...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to replace cedars on a 40 degree slope in Boerne, TX.
August 28, 2012 - My backyard is a roughly 40 degree slope that is covered with cedars. The slope is basically all rock, what can I grow here to replace the cedar which drink too much water. I would still like the area...
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.