Shoreline Erosion Control

 

 

Plants - especially native herbaceous wetland plants with their awesome root structures - can take the place of bulkheads and retaining walls in many situations.  Plants diffuse wave energy rather than simply reflecting it; as a result the plants capture sediment before it can pollute the adjacent water and provide quiet nurseries for tiny fish and other aquatic creatures.

 

Controlling shoreline erosion with plants requires attention to a number of factors including wave energy, shoreline grade, and wind and lunar tides.  Plant selection must take these factors into account along with shade and salinity.  That said, a few species really stand out.  Zizaniopsis miliacea (Giant Rice Cutgrass, a.k.a. Water Millet) cannot be beat for freshwater shorelines within its native range of eastern NC, SC, and VA.  It is a tall true grass that grows in deeper water than any other emergent.  For salt influenced shorelines of the eastern US the real workhorse is Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass).  This Spartina grows in the zone between low and high tides, while its companion Spartina patens (Saltmeadow Cordgrass) grows upland of the normal high tide.

 Edenhouse Living Shoreline 

This 'Living Shoreline' replaced a failing bulkhead and has withstood hurricanes without damage