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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native plants for creekside erosion control

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Saturday - December 16, 2006

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Native plants for creekside erosion control
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need advice on what native plants I can use to slow erosion by my creek. The watershed for a large area ends up at my place, and nothing is growing where most of the runoff flows. I've got braken fern and beauty berry around the creek, so don't want to interfere with my beloved natives. I'm in Van Zandt county and have sandy loam over red clay. Need something at the edge of the creek where runoff is making waterfalls!

ANSWER:

First of all, you might consider using erosion-control blankets and/or fiber or coir rolls to stabilize the erosion area. The fiber rolls and erosion-control fabric work by slowing the runoff water and allowing sediment to fall out rather than be washed away. Seeds are sown under the erosion-control material and grow up through the matting when they germinate. The roots of the plants growing through the erosion-control material anchor the soil to stop the erosion. If you use erosion-control blankets made of biodegrable material, they will eventually disappear leaving the plants to control the problem. You can read about a stream bank stabilization project implemented by Department of Environmental Services, Arlington, Viriginia.

Native grasses are a good plant choice for erosion control because the extensive fibrous root systems that they develop hold the soil in place. The following grasses tolerate wet conditions but don't need to live constantly in water. Moreover, they are attractive plants that occur naturally in Van Zandt or adjacent counties.

GRASSES AND GRASS-LIKE PLANTS:

Bushy bluestem, Andropogon glomeratus
Gulf muhley, Muhlenbergia capillaris
Eastern gamagrass, Tripsacum dactyloides
Sedges, Carex sp. (e.g., Creek sedge, C. blanda) are another possibility.

Here are some other plants that should do well in your erosion area that gets very wet and then dries out. These plants also occur in, or adjacent to, Van Zandt County:

BUSHES/SMALL TREES:

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis
Roughleaf dogwood, Cornus drummondii
False indigo, Amorpha fruticosa
Scarlet rose mallow, Hibiscus laevis
Baccharis, Baccharis halimifolia


TALL HERBACEOUS:

American waterwillow, Justicia americana
Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis
Physostegia sp. (e.g., Obedient plant, P. intermedia)
Pluchea sp. (e.g., Saltmarsh fleabane, Pluchea odorata)
Blue water leaf, Hydrolea ovata
American germander, Teucrium canadense

 

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