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
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

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Jamaica swamp sawgrass
Cladium mariscus ssp. jamaicense

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native understory plants for shade under live oaks
June 09, 2008 - I have large live oak trees in my front yard. I would like to start North Central Texas native landscaping under them, where no grass will grow. Do you know of some plants that would do well in ful...
view the full question and answer

Different shades of green in Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
June 05, 2008 - I have two bald cypress trees 50 feet apart, but there was very different soil in the two holes. One was a clayey soil and the other was much more the Austin limestone soil. The trees are about 2 ye...
view the full question and answer

Deer resistant, shade tolerant plants for Austin, TX
April 16, 2007 - I am looking for plants to put in my front yard--very shaded, and need to be deer resistant. I would love some things in the blue family. Also want blues in my back yard that is a combination of ful...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Narrow, Dry, Shaded Site in Georgia
April 03, 2014 - I am writing from Valdosta, GA. Could you please suggest three perennial shrubs and/or plants that flower at different times of the spring and summer? Also ones that can be planted in a 2 ft. wide s...
view the full question and answer

Native ground covers for shade in East Texas
June 06, 2008 - I live in Mount Pleasant, Texas which is in northeast Texas. I would like a list of ground covers that would do well in our area. The place I want to put it gets a lot of shade. The ground is clay. Th...
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