Q:

How do you address stream bank erosion with native plants?

A:

To address stream bank erosion, carefully select some native vegetation, plant ground covering and afterwards plant trees and shrubs. Pay attention not only to which plants prevent erosion but also to which plants benefit the local environment.

  1. Select native plants

    Choose a selection of trees, shrubs, vines, grass and other ground cover. Select erosion-resistant perennials with strong root systems. Avoid invasive species that overrun the banks or choke waterways. Tall trees are inappropriate for narrow brooks but fine for wide streams. Keep aesthetics in mind as well when choosing native species of plants.

  2. Plant ground covering

    Before planting shrubs and trees, prepare the ground covering. Avoid the use of fertilizers that damage the ecosystem of the stream. Attractive grasses that hold soil well include reed canary grass, purple three-awn and fescue. Add other appropriate ground covering such as fuschia, zinnia, pineleaf penstemon, wild grape vine and various types of fern.

  3. Plant shrubs and trees

    Plant larger shrubs and trees for long-term erosion control. One of the most popular trees for holding river banks together is the willow. Other suitable trees that do not grow out into the water include alders, sycamores, ashes, maples and walnuts. To complement the trees and ground cover and further protect the soil, plant shrubs such as dogwood, snowberry, blackberry, gooseberries, currants or three-leaf sumac.


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