Could you make a recommendation for a ground cover or plants to control erosion? Everytime I look at it
I can't see an easy solution. Any suggestions?
And the answer is...
I see this problem almost daily. A subdivision has been built in a hilly area and the builder has simply created flat
building sites by terracing the lots. The graded hills between the lots are either located entirely on one lot or the
property line goes right through the middle of the slope. Without vegetation, the hill begins to erode or even collapse.
If the hillside in question only has small gullies created by runoff, you can probably go ahead and start the process of
landscaping it. However when I see sink holes beginning to develop in the hillside, the slope may need to be regraded and
stabilized or any
landscaping you install may end up being dislodged by the unstable slope. My advice in this situation is to contact a
Certified Landscape Architect or a Civil Engineer. Some hillsides are so steep or tall that the installation of a retaining
wall may be in order.
If landscaping will fit your needs, my first advice is to locate the property line. If you are the downhill neighbor and
the property line is at the top of the slope, then the
hill is all yours. If it's at the bottom, it belongs to your uphill neighbor and a meeting will be in order. If the property line goes
through the slope itself, once again meet with your neighbor because landscaping half a hill probably won't solve your problem.
After determining the location of the property lines and you have reached a consensus with your neighbor (if necessary), take
measurements, determine the amount of sun the area gets and create a plan or idea on paper.
Before you do any earth moving in this area - planting, grading, etc. - make sure to have the utilities marked by calling
Amend your soil using topsoil and organic supplements. It's obvious that what has been left after grading is the hardpan red clay.
After amending, you may want to cover the hillside with a jute cloth (jute netting) before planting. This open-weave material is
made from biodegradable plant
fibers and is used to temporarily hold the soil on a hillside until the plants become established. Simply cut holes in it when
I don't usually recommend covering an entire hill with a ground cover plant.
Weeding this will eventually become a nightmare, especially on the slope.
Trees, shrubs and perennials have very good root systems that can hold
the soil. For the situation pictured above, I would suggest some small-growing
trees at the top or mid-way on the slope. Don't plant them in a line. Plant
them as specimens, in a zigzag pattern or in groups of 3 or 5 the length of the
slope. Install low-growing shrubs in a similar fashion next to the trees.
Perennials or annuals (including ground covers) can be planted at the edges
at the top and/or bottom. Create a border by either trenching or installing
some type of edging to keep the turf from invading the bed. Apply a generous
layer of mulch which should be 2-3 inches deep when settled to protect the roots and cover the jute. Stay away
from pine straw as it slides easily. Shredded pine or hardwood may be the
Here are some plants that I would avoid for this situation:
Ground cover junipers: overused, but may be okay as a groundcover at the edge of the bed, but not the whole hill
English ivy: one of the most evil plants you could turn loose in your landscape
Cotoneaster, Winter jasmine: look disheveled much of the year
Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei): invasive and susceptible to scale
Plants that require frequent pruning to stay a desirable size
High maintenance plants that require frequent care
Here are some plants that I would recommend for this situation:
Small trees: Redbud, Kousa Dogwood, Flowering Crabapple, perhaps Crape Myrtle
Small shrubs: Virginia Sweetspire (dwarf), Purple Pixie Loropetalum, Firepower Nandina, Indian Hawthorn