During soil erosion, water and wind wear away topsoil. Plants reduce or stop erosion. A variety of grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees stabilise the soil and stop damage by raindrops and wind. The best plants are well adapted to the local area.
Low, spreading leafy plants are classified as ground covers. The plants completely cover the ground and no soil is exposed. Flowers such as creeping phlox and vinca are two flowers that serve as groundcovers. Perennial legumes such as crown vetch, and vines such as English ivy, also fall into this category. Many turf and ornamental grasses hold soil tightly with their mat-like roots.
The low-growing creeping juniper is a popular shrub planted to reduce soil erosion. Other useful woody shrubs are gooseberries and currants. Willows are often classified as shrubs. They grow in wet areas and stabilise stream banks.
Red alder trees help control erosion on stream banks and steep slopes. Ponderosa pine roots firmly anchor to the soil. Cottonwood and dogwood trees prevent erosion in moist areas but their roots may also clog nearby pipes and drains.