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
5 ratings

Friday - June 26, 2009

From: Winston-Salem, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control
Title: Plants to stop creek bank erosion in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi: I live in NC where most of the dirt is clay based. I have a small creek behind my house that is eroding. The creek overflows when there is a heavy rain and as a result, gradual erosion. My goal is to plant a row of trees/shrubs for erosion control and bank stabilization along with privacy as there are houses behind me that are on top of a hill. I plan to plant on the side of the creek away from my house. I also have a smaller area to plant on the house side of the creek. I have a fence and it helps but this side is slowing eroding too. I would like to figure out how to handle this side without planting anything that blocks the view of the creek. I need help with what to plant that will cover both topics and add some natural landscaping beauty, not weedy looking and help with ideas on the house side of the creek. Please help as if I continue to loose my bank, it will move into my backyard. Thank you in advance for any ideas.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants found the following shrubs/small trees that do well in wet clay soil in North Carolina:

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Cornus amomum (silky dogwood)

Crataegus viridis (green hawthorn)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Salix humilis (prairie willow)

One of the best plants for preventing erosion is grass.  Grasses have extensive fibrous root systems that hold the soil in place very well.  Here are several attractive grasses and grass-like plants that you could put underneath the shrubs or even on the side of the creek nearest your house.

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Eleocharis montevidensis (sand spikerush)

Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail)

Rhynchospora colorata (starrush whitetop)

Finally, here is a fern and several flowering plants that should be nice for the side of the creek nearest your house:

Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Crinum americanum (seven sisters)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)


Cephalanthus occidentalis

Cornus amomum

Crataegus viridis

Physocarpus opulifolius


Ptelea trifoliata

Salix humilis

Andropogon glomeratus

Chasmanthium latifolium

Eleocharis montevidensis

Equisetum hyemale

Rhynchospora colorata

Asclepias incarnata

Crinum americanum

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Osmunda cinnamomea

 





 

More Erosion Control Questions

California native plants for a steep slope
May 29, 2010 - We are looking for California native plants for a steep south facing slope that do not attract bees. Can you please provide a list?
view the full question and answer

Erosion preventing plants for West Virginia
July 16, 2007 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and I've got a hillside that's too steep to mow. I'd like to put in plants that other than weeding and regular tending, will...
view the full question and answer

Shrubs and small trees for a slope in NY
May 21, 2012 - We are looking for a living wall made of shrubs / small trees - no more than 25' for the top of a steep creek bed. We are looking for the best erosion preventing types.
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion on creek side
July 05, 2011 - I need plants for a westside slope to a creek that will help with erosion, need fast growing and likes lots of sun. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control Shrubs and Groundcovers for Steep NY Wooded Slope
November 28, 2015 - I need to cover a couple of very steep slopes in upstate New York that are partially wooded and near a brook. The slopes are about 130 feet back from the brook. Someone estimated that there is a coupl...
view the full question and answer

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