Native Perennials and Erosion Control

Native perennials are not only aesthetically pleasing and beneficial to local flora and fauna, but also a great means of erosion control. Root systems of perennials are exponentially deeper than standard turf grass and persist for years. Roots can anchor down into the soil up to 15 feet, making them great soil stabilizers.

These roots are also able to capture phosphorus runoff before they can reach our ground water supply. As we know, phosphorus run-off from agricultural production is a culprit in producing blue-green algae blooms in our Wisconsin lakes and rivers. Also with great big roots, perennials can out-compete weeds or harmful invasive species, reducing the need for toxic herbicide application. Additionally, these roots establish channels throughout the soil, providing aeration, water, and nutrient flow for neighboring plants.

Perennials provide moisture to soil, making the soil less prone to drying out and erosion. Deep roots can reach nutrients that are not found in top soil. Perennials bring these out-of-reach nutrients to other plants which can benefit. These long root systems take in all the nutrients perennials need, requiring less work from the gardener.

Formecology just recently completed a shoreline project at Frank Lloyd Wright’s John Pew House residence in which we installed erosion control measures on a hillside facing Lake Mendota. We blanketed the hillside with Envirolok, LLC native vegetative mats. The beauty of these perennial mats is that they provide an instant plant matrix to make the hillside stronger against erosion over time as the roots grow. We are very excited to see the hillside grow and bloom in years to come.


Contact Formecology if you have an eroding slope that can benefit from deep rooted plants and consider what perennials can do for you!