16 Plants Which Can Stop & Prevent Soil Erosion

Soil erosion refers to the process in which soil particles are moved around as a result of rainfall, wind and ice melt. It is a natural process, but in most cases human activity dangerously speeds it up.

It has affected land all over the world and usually results in gullies, cracks and severe dryness to the soil. The biggest impact of soil erosion is on plants, flowers, vegetation and crops because they receive insufficient nutrients to aid healthy growth.

There are several methods that could be used to prevent soil erosion, but the most common one planting trees, flowers and grasses. These plants help in lessening the impact of rainfall, wind, excessive watering and ice melt on soil by developing strong roots.

If you are looking for plants you can grow to stop & prevent erosion, this guide is the perfect resource for you.


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    Wildflowers can grow spontaneously under favorable conditions, even without being deliberately grown. They have deep roots which can hold soil and prevent displacement due to flowing water etc.

    - African Daisy (Dimorphotheca aurantiaca): The African Daisy is an annual with 2-4 inches wide daisy-like flowers, a native of South Africa. The flowers come in brilliant shades of white, yellow, and orange.

    - Agave (Agave americana): This plant has no stem. Its thick and massive gray-green leaves originate from a basal rosette. The leaves get up to 6” long and 10” wide, and have sharp spines on the margins and tips.

    The margin spines are recurved like fishhooks and the tip spines can be more than an inch long. The flower stalk is branched, 20-40” tall, and bears large (3-4”) yellow-green flowers.

    These plants can be used as hedges for erosion control.

    - Alder (Alnus glutinosa): The calla lily flower spathe is a large, flaring, trumpet-shaped bract which surrounds the spadix which is covered with tiny flowers.

    - Baby Blue Eyes (Callirhoe involucrata): A hardy annual native to California, this is easily grown throughout the United States. The delicate, sky blue, cup-shaped flowers continue to bloom throughout spring and the plant requires a light, sandy soil with moderate amounts of water.

    - Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria): This is a common name for two species of flowers, Greater Celandine, which belongs to the poppy family, and Lesser celandine, belonging to Ranunculus family.

    Celandines are seen as a thick carpet of gold where they are abundant. The Celandine flowers have eight glossy, butter-yellow petals, arranged in a rosette form and are seen on delicate stalks rising above the leaves.

    - Dog violet (Viola riviniana): Violets are very tough plants and grow very deep roots. Not only do they provide good erosion control, the flowers are also beautiful. However, if you let the violets grow unchecked in your garden you might have trouble restricting them to one area or patch.

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    Small trees and shrubs

    Plants, small trees and shrubs which grow close to the ground are also great for preventing erosion.


    Sturdy ground covers and shrubs are a great way to deter foot traffic through an area (another contributor to soil erosion).

    - Juniper: Juniper comes in so many varieties that you’re bound to find a version that thrives in your zone.

    - Rosemary: Rosemary grows on a small evergreen shrub belonging to the Labiatae family that is related to mint. Its leaves look like flat pine-tree needles, deep green in color on top while silver-white on their underside.

    - Buttonbush: This makes an excellent edible addition to any garden. It is a water absorber that needs moist soil, making it a smart option for rainy climates.

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    For trees that will flourish in a hillside garden, look for species with extensive root systems capable of keeping the tree steady on a slope and penetrating several layers of earth.

    - Cascara: The cascara (Frangula purshiana), also called the cascara buckthorn, is an erosion-control tree for dry to wet soils. Slow-growing and with coarse, dark-green, dense foliage, the cascara tree reaches a mature height of about 35 feet and is most appropriate for climates with slightly milder winters. The cascara tolerates winter temperatures down to about 0 degrees.

    - Fir: Fir trees are coniferous evergreens; this means that they do not lose their leaves during the winter season and that they have cones for the purpose of reproduction. They are most closely related to cedars, but at a glance, they also look similar to other conifers such as pines and larches.

    However, each of these trees has unique characteristics that set them apart from the others. Fir trees can be identified by their unique needle-like leaves that are almost always short, measuring at only a few inches in length. While the needles of many pine trees are clumped in groups of two, three, or five, the needles of the fir tree are connected to its branches individually by a little suction cup base. The cones of fir trees can be anywhere from two to ten inches long, and when fully developed, these cones break open and release their seeds.

    - Pine: Pine trees also help to control erosion with their deep roots, particularly the lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) and ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa), which grow best in sunny areas with dry soils. The lodgepole pine has a short, narrow, conical crown and grows up to 80 feet tall and 20 feet wide, thriving in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8 (minimum temperature of -25 degrees).

    The ponderosa pine has a narrow, cylindrical, irregular shape and grows 60 to 100 feet tall with a 30-foot spread, appropriate for zones 3 through 7 (-35 degrees).

    - Willow: Willow trees, particularly the weeping willow (Salix babylonica), have deep, vigorous roots and are best for wet to moist, sunny areas. With an open crown of weeping branches that touch the ground, the weeping willow grows best in zones 6 through 8 (-5 degrees), reaching a mature height of just 30 to 40 feet and spread of 35 feet.

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    Ornamental Grasses

    These low-maintenance plants grow at moderate to fast speeds, thrive in both shade and full sun (depending on the climate), and establish strong, sprawling root systems that give soil staying power.

    - Mondo: Mondo grass, a native to Asia, is not a true grass but a grass-like plant which does well in all types of soil. It's related to liriope, another ornamental grass, and is grown for its foliage. This short, compact grass spreads by underground stems and its sprouts blooms lilac or white in summer.

    - Blue fescue: Blue fescue is a native of southern France, where it grows among sandstone rocks and in limestone pastures. Though it comes through most British winters, you can only really guarantee its survival by providing sharply drained growing conditions. It requires only occasional watering, or none at all if planted in an area with frequent water runoff.

    - Yellow foxtail: Yellow foxtail (Setaria lutescens, S. glauca) is a shallow-rooted summer annual grass that reproduces by seeds. Stems grow 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm) tall and branch at the base.

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