If your gardens has steep banks and slopes, choosing the right plants, planting and maintaining them can be challenging for even the
most experienced gardeners. I personally prefer slopes to a flat "green-lawn-man" type of garden. So in this article I will mainly be looking at ways to keep the slopes and plant them
with plants that will not only thrive on slopes but are low maintenance and provide a long term solution to erosion of the soil. However I will also look at and point toward my articles that
suggest other methods to make a sloping garden a place with space to enjoy.
Plant a few deep rooting trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants in the grass selected from the lists on
this page they look good, attract birds and help reduce erosion.
Trees and shrubs include Burning Bush, Fragrant Sumac, Japanese Yew, California Lilac, Creeping Juniper, Dwarf Forsythia, Snowberry Siberian Carpet Cypress.
Ground cover includes Prostrate Rosemary, Dwarf Coyote, Bush inca, Creeping Myoporum, Rockrose Cotoneaster, English Ivy and for Shady areas try Japanese Pachysandra,
Vinca Beach, Strawberry Kinnikinnik.
Ornamental Grasses can include Red Fescue, Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, Canada Wildrye.
These decorative plants will need a bit of extra care as they establish but will look good and also help stabilise soil on a slope, Violets Daylilies Deadnettle
Roses Spring bulbs Coneflower Russian Sage
My two main considerations when planting a slope that is difficult to access are; low-maintenance and deep-rooting, but I also try to take nature
into account by planting a combination of trees, shrubs, and ground covers to attract the birds and the bees and break the rainfall, which reduces erosion.
Bear these factors in mind when planting on a slope
- Slopes are usually very dry at the top when it hasn't rained and very wet, even swampy toward the bottom of the slope when it does rain. So choose plants that tolerate dry weather for the top 2/3rd and plants that will survive damp
soil for the bottom third.
- Tall plants with a widespread are best avoided as they will eventually topple over, tall plants with a deep root system are OK.
- If soil erosion is causing problems it is a good ideal to plant deep rooting plants and avoid shallow rooting plants like ivy that will gradually suffocate slower-growing
- Flowering plants can do well on sloped ground, but will require mulching and regular tending until established.
Planting on a slope involves a bit of trial and error, but the plants listed here will take a bit of the guesswork out of it.
Miniature sedum is a small plant that grows well in poor conditions including drought. It grows
quickly and if planted one to two feet apart will quickly cover an area with pink, yellow or white flowers. Miniature sedum species include "Cape Blanco," "blue carpet" and "minus."
Creeping phlox is evergreen with dark green to bluish leaves and blooms from
early spring to early summer with flowers that are white, pink, red or bluish-lavender. It grows to about 6" and spreads quickly and is best planted one to two feet apart.
Catnip grows under just about any condition, tolerating both temporary flooding and drought. So can be
planted throughout the sloped area preventing erosion and its tiny flowers will attract butterflies and tea can be made from the blossoms and leaves of catnip plants.
Weeds and Wildflowers
plantains, pussytoes, yarrow, violets and other native species do well on sloped ground. Although we know them as weeds, some of these hardy plants produce lovely wildflowers and are
very effective at controlling soil erosion.
Plants that like to flow down slopes like coneflowers, black eyed susan, garden phlox, shasta daisies, purple russian sage, herbs like catmint
and creeping phlox work well on the edge of a terrace.
Plants like artemesias and soft wooly lambs ears with grey or silver foliage add contrasting colour against brighter blooms and dwarf evergreen shrubs.
Birdbaths, bird feeders, big flowerpots and trellises all add interest, but don't go over the top in a small sloped garden. Too much clutter makes it look smaller, design tips can be
found on my small garden page.