Gardeners who live along both fresh and saltwater shorelines face the problem of erosion control. Whether due to periodic or consistent storms affecting the shoreline, or the rise and fall of tides, unplanted areas give way to nature's constant pounding. Many plants are well-suited for growing along shorelines and holding the soil in place. Choices include grasses, shrubs and ground covers, including those that even give the extra benefit of blooming.
Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) is a large, attractive, native shrub used for erosion control along coastal, dune shorelines. It has a high tolerance to salt spray and resistance to high winds. This makes seagrape a durable planting for ocean shorelines where wind and water create constant erosion problems. Plants have large, oval-like, leathery leaves. In springtime, white, fragrant blossoms fill the plant followed by clusters of edible, grape-like fruits. Various species of wildlife eat the fruits. Humans use the fruits to make jellies or jams.
Plants grow quite tall, with a mature height of up to 35 feet and a spread of up to 50 feet. Seagrape is tolerant to conditions of drought and grows best planted in full to partial sun. Plants perform best grown in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.
Cord grass (Spartina) has various cultivars with some species being native. Its high tolerance to salt makes it usable to plant along salty or brackish shorelines. The grass has a thick, clumping nature. Plants produce tan-colored flowers throughout summer.
The grass has a dense nature, making it suitable for use as an erosion control plant. Cord grass averages anywhere from 2 to 6 feet in height, depending upon the cultivar, and has a variable spreading habit. Plants grow quite fast and prefer full-sun conditions with a semi-high drought tolerance. Cord grass grows well planted throughout USDA zones 8 and 9.
Florida Gama Grass
Florida gama grass (Tripsacum floridana) is suitable for use in adding stability to shoreline banks and steep areas. The native grass has a clumping nature and its dense growth habit controls erosion along freshwater shorelines. It has a medium tolerance to salt. Gama grass flowers springtime throughout summer with yellow blooms.
Plants average 2 to 4 feet tall and can have a width of up to 6 feet. Florida gama grass prefers full to partial sun and has moderate watering requirements. The grass works well grown throughout USDA zones 8 through 11.