Bio-Engineering Plants

Bio-engineering is a fascinating discipline

Essentially, it is nature reshaping nature. It is using plants to bond with freshly excavated banks. Such plants, known as live stakes, absorb excess water from the soil and help stabilize neo-structures. Projects are relatively easy and relatively inexpensive to undertake, adding habitat value and nutrients in the process.

Biology as technology

Biology is the ultimate sustainable technology. Plants are solar-powered factories that turn sunlight into materials that we can use: cleaner air, healthier food, and green ideas that we have yet to fathom. Engineering plants in natural ways as environmental structures is both eco-friendly and exciting, often contributing to thriving fish habitat, helping species to lay eggs without impediments.

Plants as reinforces of Nature

Black Willow (often misspelled as “black willow”) is an excellent tree for reinforcing slopes and stream-banks. Woody and easily carved, it loves water and is perfect for geoengineering purposes. It generates and is excellent for crafting simple brush layers with dormant cuttings. Whether placed on an angled bench or stoked in steep revetments, black willow restores healthy riparian zone functions. The leaves are verdant and plentiful, growing in alternates, with narrow tapered ends. The shoots, which typically grow straight, are prized for their versatility. Highly adaptable with medical properties, it is a fuss-free plant that seamlessly reinforces the soil of different brush layers, capable of growing 35-100 feet tall.

Plants as stabilizer

Rough-leaf dogwood is a flowering plant that blooms early spring to summer. It produces a cluster of berries that turn white and straightforward leaves that are slightly furry on both the upper and lower surfaces. An under-story tree, it is a natural host to different kinds of birds — yellow warblers, catbirds, yellow-throats, cardinals, and goldfinches. Though a small clumping group of shrubs, it has a tree-like stalk that can reach a mature height of 15 to 25 feet and a mature with of 10 to 15 feet. Ideal soil conditions include clay, loam, sand, acidic, and alkaline varieties. It requires full sun to partial shade to thrive to its fullest.

Plants as restorer

Live stakes (often misspelled as “live stakes” in keyword searches) are an easy and affordable way to restore soil and stream-bank erosion. Dogwoods, shrub-like, grow well in wet conditions and root easily, making first stakes. For best results, live stakes should be cut at a 45° angle, ensuring that each stake has several notes. Once the stakes are cut and collected for off-site harvesting, be sure to keep them wet, cold, dark, and fresh---preferably ready to plant the same day. To plant, drill a moderate pilot hole. Insert the stake at a 90° angle and plant densely in a zigzag pattern. Planting the stalks in soil that is routinely wet is best.

To learn more about bio-engineering, contact your local tree nursery today. Low-cost materials and ease of implementation make rough leaf dogwood and black willow ideal for reinforcing embankments, repairing soil erosion, and restoring the biosphere for all living things.