We bought a camp on a small river in eastern Indiana. The bank recently
underwent a lot of erosion. Its eight foot walls are literally vertical at
the top. Obviously it is too late to do much about this, but I was thinking
that bamboo might work well to try to mitigate more erosion. We will be
fishing off the bank so the bamboo should not be too tall. I understand
that when you cut bamboo, it stops growing. We could let it start and just
trim anything that got in our way. The bank faces the south and gets a lot
of light. The soil is very sandy and appears rich.
Looks tough to me but your temps are unknown to me.
Frop the URL
"Vetiver maintains tolerance to extreme climatic variation
such as prolonged drought, flood, submergence and
extreme temperature from -14C to +55C (7 to 131F)
exceeds most grass, iceplant,red apple, bamboo and many
That's not about erosion control for waterways that's for dry banks. Once
river/stream banks give way due to excessive water it's too late to plant
anything but rock. I had a similar situation, too much water in my stream
after the ground thawed in spring and I lost much of the banks, in fact huge
chunks washed away. My first thought was plantings (actualkly my first
thought was PaNiC), I considered reeds as I have lots of cattail at my pond.
But reeds don't anchor into vertical ground and won't hold with rushing
water. After much research my only solution was to have the stream totally
reconfigured, dug deeper and wider so it would hold greater volume, and the
surface made with a smooth contour to keep water turbulence to a minimum.
Then the entire stream was lined with a special heavy duty matrix material,
and then ripraped (riprap means lined with stone so as to break up and
equalize the pressure of rushing water). The first attempt failed as the
stones used were too small (many washed away) and since it was done in the
fall there wasn't enough time for plants to take hold between the stones
that would marry it all together. The excavating company came back in early
summer when water flow was very low with larger stones (they can't do this
with rushing water). So far it has held well through last fall's heavy
rains and this winter, the real test will be this spring.
I had to have it repaired before it became worse, erosion does not heal
itself.... and micky mousing around with silly schemes trying to save a few
dollars would have been foolhardy... another heavy rain and the repair would
have cost ten times as much, I know I did the right thing. And I had no
choice as the erosion was mostly at the turn where the pipe from my french
drain entered the stream, the erosion was working towards my house too.
Some of the erosion:
Stone being installed:
French drain rerouted:
They did a nice job:
At times water used to rise to the top and even overflowed, now the stream
can contain greater volume:
The excavating company did a neat job, they made minimal mess and the next
day hauled in a load of top soil, reseeded, and rolled everything smooth.
Over the summer the grass grew back and a lot of plants started filling the
stream. This spring after the rains I intend to replant the banks as I lost
most everything with the erosion, shouldn't take long to look good again. I
was surprised that they charged only $1,800. I would strongly urge the OP
not fool around with planting bamboo, it won't work and will waste a lot of
valuable time while more erosion is bound to occur. And there is no way
anyone can do this by hand, hire an excavating company and be certain they
come with good credentials... I swear that operater could do brain surgery
with that machine. This is the third big job they did for me, always a
great job at a fair price... and they stand behind their work, not many
would return and do it over. And this was a very small fill in job for
them, they mostly do big commercial jobs, that was their smallest excavator.
You cannot repair that yourself, in fact under riparian law you'll probably
need permission to touch it, so don't go digging holes to put in plants.
Before doing anything I suggest you contact the appropriate government
agencies; begin by speaking with your town clerk about which agencies you
might contact... begin at the local level and work up from the town to
county to state to federal.
Didn't you notice that river when you purchased your property (how could you
not - all you saw was a pretty lazy river -changing weather conditions and
liability never occured to you), didn't you check into who is responsible
for maintaining the river banks, and whether you're in a flood plain.. you
should have received such info at closing under full disclosure law... you
may need to engage an attorney and sue the realtor/seller, if so do NOT
choose a local attorney. I have no idea what your property is about, like
elevation, acreage, and how much frontage is on that river, but it sure
sounds like you are probably in very deep doodoo. Speak to your neighbors
who also front that river, on a river that size you can't be the only one
with erosion. If this erosion is from an isolated major weather event there
may already be a government relief program underway, if so find out where to
get and submit the forms to put yourself on record as applying for help. I
suggest you move quickly. And start taking lots of photos (hopefully you
have photos of the area prior to the erosion), and keep a daily log of
weather conditions, take pictures every time it rains and/or there's high
water. The one thing you have going for you is with a river of that
magnetude you're not the only one who's affected by the erosion. I went
through all the above but found no help because the town was only
responsible for the 50 feet either side of the road center the stream passes
under via culvert, and I was the only one affected. So rather than waste
time and energy banging my head against the proverbial brick wall of
government I decided to pay for the repair myself... and I wasn't about to
wait for the damage to become worse.
You may find something helpful here, perhaps if you caontact them they can
give guidance: http://www.erosioncontrol.com /
The yard behind the the bank is quite long so there is no emergency. I was
fully aware of the issue. We could lose 100' before the septic system is a
problem. There is a shelter near the edge that I would rather not move,
but in some ways, moving it would be a lot cheaper and easier than screwing
with the bank.
On Thu, 19 Feb 2009 12:11:33 -0500, "Dan Listermann"
Bamboo can be invasive, dwarf varieties and variegated types less so.
It can be very effective in erosion control. Keep in mind that you
may have bamboo control issues in the future. I've seen it growing
under asphalt, and it has broken water pipes, etc.
If the river bank is sunny, grass might work well. You may need to
cover it with a net with some mulch, compost, or straw to help keep it
from washing away until it gets started.
Better than Bamboo is Miscanthus, it is native to the great plains and
may have ranged into Indiana. It has deep and strong roots (remember the
stories about sodbusters - it was Miscanthus they were busting). It is
not subject to most weather issues in the midwest.
It is the grass that is being looked at for biomass and biofuels because
of its ability to grow and spread quickly.
That having been said - it does grow and spread quickly and it has deep
roots. If you ever intend to grow something else there - don't plant it.
Keep it well mowed in areas you do not want it to spread in and remember
the roots can run 2 or 3 feet without popping up and then suddenly - you
in small form it looks like grass - allowed to grow to full height -
some varieties can top 8 feet in a summer. Deer and other wildlife find
it an acceptable food, especially in the spring, because it starts
greening up faster than most grass.
OBTW - the popular name is switch grass. Most nurseries carry at least
Just to clarify this:
Miscanthus is a genus of grasses native to subtropical and tropical
regions of Africa and Southern Asia. It is not native to any region of
Switch grass is in the genus Panicum. It is not a Miscanthus.
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