How to Plant for Erosion Control


Erosion is caused by wind, rain, foot traffic and animals eating the vegetation. If your lawn is experiencing erosion, select plants that are fast-growing so you can quickly take control of the situation. Choose perennials or shrubs rather than annuals for continuous erosion control.

Step 1

Check the sun level in the morning, at noon and again in late afternoon over the erosion area. If there is at least six hours of sunshine, then use plants for full sun. If the location has four to six hours, choose partial sun plants. With less than four hours of sun, choose shade or part shade plants.

Step 2

Get the soil evaluated to see if you need to amend it. At a minimum, plan to work in at least 1 inch of organic matter or top soil.

Step 3

Check the depth of the soil by inserting a spade into the ground to see if there is rock below (not small stones, but actual bedrock). If the spade hits rock, then use shallow root plants like creeping ground covers (sun location) or hosta (shade location).

Step 4

Shop for the desired plants when they are available at the nursery or home and garden center, which is indication that it is a safe time to plant them. Determine the number needed by calculating the planting area with how far apart the plants must be planted, based on the information that comes with the plant.

Step 5

Look for plants with root systems preferable for erosion control. Suitable ground cover, which is usually 3 to 6 inches tall, and plants up to 2 feet tall, include creeping phlox, salvia, viola pedata and sedum. Shrubs likes like creeping juniper, ornamental grass like liriope and ferns are also helpful in slowing erosion. Ivy, myrtle, vinca or ajuga are also options, but they can be invasive. The area can be covered with one variety or combinations of plants.

Step 6

Use a staggered process for planting. Imagine a checkerboard where you plant a row by filling every other square on the first row of the board starting with the first square. For the second row, skip the first square and plant in the second square and every other square to the end of the row. Repeat the process with odd numbered rows starting in the first square location and hitting odd number squares, and even number rows starting in the second square and hitting even numbered squares. The resulting staggered planting pattern, instead of all straight lines, helps to reduce further erosion.

Step 7

Install fencing to control animals or foot traffic.

Step 8

Mulch after planting and weed regularly. Water the plants or shrubs after planting. Water plants weekly if there is no rain. Deadheading flowers of perennials will encourage new growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Variety of perennials
  • Spade
  • Mulch


  • University of Texas, Erosion Control in Lawn
  • Virginia Cooperative: Ground Covers
Keywords: plants to control erosion, erosion control, lawn erosion

About this Author

Barbara Raskauskas's favorite pursuits are home improvement, landscape design, organic gardening and blogging. Her Internet writing appears on SASS Magazine, AT&T and various other websites. Raskauskas is active in the small business she and her husband have owned since 2000 and is a former MS Office instructor.