Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - April 02, 2009

From: Low Moor, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to prevent bank erosion in Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am looking for good native plant choices for a steep river bank. My driveway is at the top of this slope, so I will need to avoid any plants that would cause erosion. I would prefer low shrubs.

ANSWER:

Plants are the ideal solution to stop erosion, not to cause it, and Mr. Smarty Plants has some suggestions.  First of all, if your slope is really steep, you might want to consider using erosion-control blankets.  The erosion-control fabric works 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. Underneath the matting 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.

Grasses are excellent plants to use on a slope to stop the erosion because of their extensive fibrous root systems which hold the soil in place.  The challenge is to find grasses and other plants that will grow well in your space.  You can intersperse shrubs with the grass to make an attractive ground cover.  Unfortunately, I don't know what the sunlight and moisture conditions of your slope are.  I will, therefore, offer some plants that have very broad light and moisture requirements.  If some special conditions exist, you can search for your own plants by going to our Native Plant Database and doing a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing 'Virginia' and the appropriate selections from the other categories.

Grasses and sedges:

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Low-growing shrubs:

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush)


Andropogon virginicus

Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Chasmanthium latifolium

Schizachyrium scoparium

Comptonia peregrina

Ceanothus americanus

Hypericum prolificum

Artemisia ludoviciana

 

 

 

More Erosion Control Questions

Will not cutting grass make its roots stronger?
May 27, 2009 - I live on a lake that has a hill. There is some problem with erosion on the hillside. Our association wants us to not cut the grass to stop the erosion. How does not cutting the grass help the roots g...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for erosion control in sand on coastal Georgia
May 01, 2011 - I've been tasked with identifying native grass varieties or mixes (Coastal Georgia) that can be used for erosion control on sandy slopes created from dredged river sediment and that receive lots of s...
view the full question and answer

Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan
May 30, 2008 - We care for Lake Michigan dune near our home in New Buffalo and would like to provide erosion control with native species that will also enhance the beauty of the dune with long lasting flowers. The ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for edge of artificial lake in California
August 14, 2013 - How about erosion control at the edge of an artificial lake in Southern California? Juncus and ..?
view the full question and answer

Wind and erosion tolerant plants from Austin
August 05, 2013 - I recently cleared a fire break by removing cedar from around my home in West Austin. I'd like to plant the exposed NW facing slope with native shrubs and trees. Looking for selections that can wit...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.