15 Plants That Fight Soil Erosion - Backyard Boss
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15 Plants That Fight Soil Erosion

Soil erosion can affect every type of landform, and it’s a process that occurs naturally. It means that the topsoil of a field is being worn away by the forces of water, wind, or farming activities.

Soil erosion happens in three phases. First comes the detachment of soil, then its movement, and finally, its disposition. Since the topsoil is rich in organic matter, nutrients, and soil life, the aftermath of soil erosion is a reduction of the productivity of croplands. Moreover, it contributes to the pollution of nearby water bodies.

While soil erosion can be a slow process that can be difficult to notice, it can quickly become worrisome. It can be accelerated by the loss of soil structure, poor water drainage, and soil acidity issues. While most people believe that soil erosion is only an issue for agricultural lands, however, it can just as well affect your garden, especially if you’re gardening on a slope.

How Soil Erosion Affects Your Garden

dried out earth with soil erosion
Image credits: Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Soil erosion is a natural process that no one can avoid. If you think your yard will not be affected by it, you are wrong. About 1% of the topsoil in your garden is lost each year. It might not look like much, but this is a very big amount of soil, and if you leave this process unchecked, there can be serious consequences for your garden.

If the topsoil is eroded, it can no longer keep moisture and nutrients, which affects your plants and crops. Although you should regularly test your garden soil, preventing soil erosion must be on your list of priorities if you want your garden to be in top shape!

That said, is there a way to prevent soil erosion? There are many ways, but one of the most popular ones is to plant shrubs and trees. Their roots keep the soil in its place, making sure it doesn’t wash away. Moreover, their leaves reduce the impact strength of rainwater, which helps with reducing runoff.

Another option could be to build your own retaining walls. This way, you not only have a very beautiful new feature in your garden, but you can counteract soil erosion as well. You can use retaining wall plants to make your yard and landscape stand out!

How Plants Control Soil Erosion

We mentioned earlier that plant roots and leaves can have a beneficial effect on soil erosion, but in some cases, they can also contribute to it. It is due to the roots breaking up the earth and creating cracks in anything they encounter. Therefore, the land becomes unstable and more prone to erosion.

Fortunately, most of the time, the leaves of plants slow down the rainfall, which results in the ability of the ground to soak up more water before being washed away. Moreover, they also slow down the winds, which, as we’ve seen above, also contribute to soil erosion. This is practically the reason why people prefer growing grass as it fights soil erosion and provides cover to an otherwise vulnerable land.

Now that we’ve seen the dangers of soil erosion, the two major steps we can take are to replant vegetation suitable for the region and make sure that we cover footpaths with gravel or mulch.

15 Plants That Fight Soil Erosion

It may seem that soil corrosion is an issue that cannot be easily controlled. However, some plants are greatly beneficial in such cases.

1. Interrupted Fern

interrupted fern
Image credits: Lachlan Gowen via Unsplash

It is a plant that you can usually find in Eastern Asia, Eastern United States, and Eastern Canada. People originally cultivated it as an ornamental plant, but soon it proved beneficial in habitat restoration projects, too. Since they are colonizing plants, they are used for ground stabilization and control of soil erosion.

2. Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox
Image credits: Julie Blake Edison via Unsplash

It is a gorgeous plant, especially when it blooms. It forms a brightly-colored carpet of petals. The Creeping Phlox is a fairly short plant but can be a fantastic addition to your garden. You can commonly find it in the Eastern United States.

3. Siberian Cypress

Siberian Cypress
Image credits: F. D. Richards via Creative Commons

While it may not bloom beautifully or look quite as nice as the Creeping Phlox, this plant can bring a great texture. What’s even better is that this is a very sturdy plant – it needs sun, however, it can do very well in the shade, too.

4. Groundcover Roses

Groundcover Roses
Image credits: patrick_standish via Creative Commons

It is a type of landscape roses and can make any plot of land look grand. For optimal soil erosion counteract, you should look for spreading types, like “Drift.” However, they do need a lot of sun, even though they don’t need pruning or spraying.

5. Catmint

Image credits: edenpictures via Creative Commons

This plant is good for more than just soil erosion. It has many pretty purple blossoms that attract many pollinators. Moreover, its flowers can last for months. However, it also needs a lot of sunlight and is not very resistant to harsh conditions.

6. Deutzia

Image credits: blumenbiene via Creative Commons

It is a very elegant shrub. It has bell-shaped pink or white petals that are very eye-catching throughout the entire year. Despite their grand look, they are very easy to grow and can go through quite rough conditions. They do require a lot of sunlight, though.

7. Creeping Juniper

Creeping Juniper
Image credits: F. D. Richards via Creative Commons

Just like the Siberian Cypress, they are very hardy plants. They grow low, and as the name suggests, they “creep” all over the soil. They barely need any care once they have established themselves. Another plus is their unique bluish-green and sometimes bright green color.

8. Russian Sage

Russian Sage
Image credits: theslowlane via Creative Commons

Even though it looks very fragile, the Russian Sage is very hardy. It is drought tolerant. It, paired with its pretty, purple petals, can make it a wonderful addition to your garden. Moreover, it can attract hummingbirds.

9. Honeysuckle

Image credits: henry perks Edison via Unsplash

This sun-loving vine is a lovely groundcover. It usually blooms in late spring, lasts till early summer, and has very fragrant petals. This plant can also attract hummingbirds with its scent. During fall, it grows red berries.

10. Forsythia

Image credits: Lori L. Stalteri via Creative Commons

You may know this plant as “The Harbinger of Spring.” It is for a good reason. As soon as springtime comes, it blossoms with bright yellow flowers. They are typically a very tidy plant. You should plant a few together for optimal results.

11. Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass
Image credits: John Tann via Creative Commons

This plant has to be grown in clumps and needs a lot of sun to do very well. There are many different types of them, and they can vary in both height and color. While they may seem like a boring choice for your everyday garden, they are a fantastic choice for soil erosion prevention.

12. Sedge

Image credits: USFWS/Southeast via Creative Commons

It is another ideal option for a soil-eroded garden. It is very adaptable and drought resistant. Moreover, it comes in various colors. While it does require some sun, it doesn’t mind the shade. It can survive some rough conditions.

13. Periwinkle

Image credits: patrick_standish via Creative Commons

This beautiful perennial will be a beautiful touch to any garden. It has bright purple flowers which blossom in spring. In colder climates, it prefers a lot of suns, but in hotter climates, it does best in the spotty shade. It spreads very quickly. That said, if you have deer in your area, you might want to keep an eye out because they love munching on perennials! If you plant these, you’ll need to know how to prevent deer from eating your plants.

14. Ajuga

Image credits: Ursus sapien via Creative Commons

This is a very hardy plant. It usually has green or bronze-colored leaves which are complemented by its purple flowers in spring. There is a wide range of colors for it, some of which can be quite interesting.

15. Cotoneaster

Image credits: Malte via Creative Commons

Even though it looks nothing like a rose, this plant is a part of the rose family. It also doesn’t require as much care as the gentle roses – it only needs watering during dry periods and doesn’t need to be fertilized often. It grows small pomes that can be in many different colors varying from pink to maroon or even black.


Soil erosion is a natural process that can be a serious problem if it isn’t kept in check. It is the process of the topsoil being worn off by water, wind, or farming activities. While it may not seem so, it is a problem that every person with a backyard faces. Remember that about 1% of the topsoil in every garden is lost each year due to soil erosion.

While this may seem like a hopeless issue, there are a few ways in which you can try and tackle it. As mentioned previously, you can try building a retaining wall, which you can also use as additional plant beds. If this is not an option, you can try to plant grass, shrubs, bushes, or many trees near. This will prevent winds from swooping the topsoil. 

Moreover, the leaves and the grass of the plants you’ve grown will lower the strength of the impact of rainfall, which is a massive reason for soil erosion. With that, we hope that soil erosion, in your books, will be a thing of the past!