The best way to control soil erosion--whether on land that is flat or sloped--is to plant native plants with root systems that grip the soil. Their extensive, fast-growing roots are almost always shallow and form a mat that protects the soil from erosion by wind and water. Planting for erosion control in shade is simply a matter of choosing erosion-controlling ground cover plants that will grow in shady conditions.
A vigorous, 4-inch-high ground cover with tiny purple flowers in early spring, creeping charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is suitable for erosion control on woodland hillsides with fairly moist soil. Its tiny, fragrant leaves form a mat of vegetation, rooting at the nodes as it grows. It can become invasive in shade and steps should be taken to prevent its spread into the lawn.
A medium-sized deciduous shrub, the chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is native to North America. It has a tendency to sucker and will form a thicket of chokeberry shrubs, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Chokeberry can reach 8 feet high at maturity as a single specimen. Its roots grip the soil making the chokeberry an excellent shrub for erosion control. It grows best in sun to partial sun, but will tolerate shade, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.
Northern Sea Oats
A hardy, cool-season ornamental grass, northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) has bamboo-like foliage. It produces showy flowers, even in shade, that open green and turn copper. Hardy through U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 5, northern sea oats also reseeds readily to produce more plants. The plant's extensive root system of most grasses makes it an effective choice to control erosion.
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