Slopes & Banks - Problem Solving Plants for Slopes & Banks
Often driving thru older neighborhoods, you'll often see homes several feeter higher than the sidewalk with a bank gradually sloping down to street level. This is a a challenging site to grow plants.
Water runs off quickly rather than soaking in often leading to erosion. A steep slope may need to be reworked by terracing or creating a retaining wall. For gradual slopes, planting groundcovers is a cost effective solution for dealing with these problem areas while stabilizing the soil, reducing maintenance while turning a negative eyesore into a gorgeous front yard.
The key to making this work is using certain groundcovers that form a solid, soil-holding mass quickly. You'll want to space them a bit closer together when planting and make sure you water well the first year as there roots become established in their new environment. A strategic placement of large boulders buried about 1/3 of the way into the soil adds interest and breaks up the flat plane of view.
A favorite and adaptable groundcover is ajuga Chocolate Chip with persistent, fast spreading roots. Ajuga is tenacious spreading by means of runners, or ground-level stems that root and form new plants and chokes out weeds along the way. Excellent for sunny or shady spots on a slope.
Creeping Sedums are some of the most versatile plants that take hold effortless in dry soil and one of my personal favorites. They easily root along a stem making this an ideal choice for very steep banks and sunny slopes without any need any supplemental irrigation. Their only requirement is good drainage. Since they come in an array of colorful foliage colors,plant an array of varieties (such as Sedum ColorMagic) for a truly gorgeous garden display from spring-winter.
Phlox subulata forms shallow roots and their horizontal stems root easily thus its common name creeping phlox. Their evergreen foliage remains attractive throughout the year and their spring blooms are nothing short of beautiful.
Daylilies form a dense mat and are ideal for erosion control as the roots trap run off water which it then uses during dryer spells. A short growing reblooming daylily as Happy Returns would be a good choice.
Other groundcover considerations:
aegopodium or bishops weed
Flowering vines such as honeysuckle (lonicera)
Although many of these plants have low water needs, plants need to be watered well the first year in their new environment until established.
There is nothing more satisfying than taking a tough garden spot and turning it from a liability to an asset with easy to grow erosion controlling groundcovers.