"Dress Up" your Slope - Hillside
Great ground cover on slopes on your property are dual purposed. One is the beauty of the plants and the other purpose is that it helps in the prevention of any dirt and water run-off.
We all know that slopes/hillsides on most properties are usually larger areas than what is depicted in the above pictures used for this article. The pictures are meant to give you an idea of what can be done to beautify the hillside while at the same time you are taking preemptive action in regards to avoiding any potential water run-off and soil erosion due to heavy rains.
If you know that someday you will be selling your home, a great and well thought out ground cover adds to the appeal of your home to a potential Buyer. And make no mistake about this… plants and shrubbery on slopes/hillsides - do indeed add value to your home.
What types of plants work well on slopes?
Some of the best plants for a slope tend to root alongside of each other, thus forming an “interlaced” root system. Clumping the plants and/or the seed will produce a thicker and stronger root system. Deep rooted plants, such as prairie plants have been known to do great on steeper slopes.
Should I use a single type of plant to create a carpet-like look?
It is not a good idea to use just one type of plant on a slope. Trying to create a uniform look tends to highlight the plant "imperfections", such as a dead plant, weeds or the spots where the plant is not growing at all. Filling a hillside with a mixture of plant types such as trees, shrubs, perennials will form a beautiful ground cover on the slope area. This mixture of plant types also help diffuse the impact and/or potential damage in regards to rain water run-off.
Is a mix of different plants better?
For a "low height" plant type option (ie: no trees) plant a mix of ground cover that flower at different times of the year. The roots of various plants will merge together thus creating an underground interlaced root system, which is great for holding back rain water and the potential of mud running onto your yard.
Can I plant wildflowers on a slope?
Wildflowers do dress up a slope and endure the multi-seasonal changes plus they are easy to maintain. Once wildflowers are planted, the nature of them is that they are self-sowing thus the potential of not having to re-plant and/or re-seed again. Wildflowers do hold well in slope areas but know that wildflowers are at their best when a slope is not so steep.
If a slope is not steep, can I grow grass that needs regular mowing?
Yes, you can. The general rule of thumb is to avoid mowing and/or growing grass on slopes less than 10 feet wide and steeper than a 25% grade/slope. An item of concern with growing grass is their shallow roots... thus having the potential of water run-off.
Growing grass is an important consideration in areas with long dry summers. Any water you apply will naturally run downhill, so you can end up wasting a lot of water. Also know that the grass on the upper part of slope will be receiving less of the nutrients contained in water than the bottom portion. (ie: the upper part of slope will more-than-likely look less healthier than the lower portion).
What are some great plants for a slope?
English Ivy - (Hedera helix)
Junipers - (Juniperus)
California Lilac (Ceanothus )
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
Forsythia (Forsythia – try “Arnold Dwarf” for small spaces)
Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum)
Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)
Siberian carpet Cypress (Microbiota decussata)
Are there any other issues to consider when planting on a steep slope?
Planting on steep slopes no doubt does create a challenge to homeowners. Therefore your initial plans should include a consultation with a local landscape contractor to ensure you are not creating a potential hillside erosion problem that could endanger your home, backyard or swimming pool.
Oscar Castillo : Broker Associate (San Diego, CA)
- Residential Brokerage