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S. (Willow) Stems at Bluestem Nursery

Salix (Willow)

Willows for Streambank Restoration, Stabilization and Erosion Control

Please Note: We have little or no expertise with this subject. However we are aware of the important role that a fast growing plant such as willows can play in stabilizing and restoring streambanks and slopes and in preventing erosion. We are therefore providing a number of links to websites that contain further information.

Recommended willows:

Slope stabilization:

Most willows form large root systems very quickly. This makes them very useful for erosion control.

Riverbank erosion control:

Salix purpurea 'Streamco'
Salix purpurea 'Streamco' planted alongside a stream
Photo courtesy USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services


Soil bioengineering is a new technology which combines mechanical, biological, and ecological concepts to prevent and/or stop shoreline erosion. Willows are interspersed with rock rip-rap (large rocks or boulders) on the riverbank. The rock works immediately to prevent erosion. As the willows become established, their roots spread in the underlying soil, binding the rocks and soil together. The willows also provide a more visually interesting shoreline than boulders alone, as well as improving the habitat for wildlife.

Further information:

In the USA there are many government departments to visit for further information:

  • Dept of Natural Resources - all across the country
  • NRCS - USDA offices (grants may be available)
  • local State Conservation Districts
  • County Extension Services exist within each State, likely within each county
  • Fish & Wildlife offices exist within each State

Note: Please contact one of the above if you intend to disturb the streambank in any way, as a permit is most likely required.

There is a great deal of information available on the internet. Some phrases to search for on search engines:

  • soil stabilization
  • slope stabilization
  • bioengineering
  • fascines
  • erosion control
  • streambank erosion control
  • shoreline erosion control
  • hedge brush layers
  • brush layering
  • log cribs walls
  • willow logs
  • streambank restoration
  • riparian restoration
  • biostabilization
  • faggoting
  • coir rolls
  • willow spiling

Erosion control in tropical countries - a remarkable grass for erosion control - Vetiver Grass. Requires a climate where the soil does not freeze in winter.