Are you tired of struggling to maintain a steep slope in your garden?
Do you want to reduce erosion and weed incursion while adding some beautiful greenery to your landscape?
Look no further than ground cover plants!
Ground covers are low-maintenance, fast-growing plants that can transform a difficult slope into a stunning feature of your garden.
But how do you plant ground cover on a steep slope?
In this article, we’ll explore some tips and tricks for successfully planting ground cover on even the steepest slopes.
Get ready to say goodbye to the hassle of maintaining a difficult slope and hello to a beautiful, low-maintenance landscape.
How To Plant Ground Cover On A Steep Slope
Step 1: Prepare the Soil
Before planting ground cover on a steep slope, it’s important to prepare the soil.
First, banish any existing weeds by pulling them out or spraying them with an herbicide.
Next, loosen the soil on flat areas by tilling or turning it with a shovel to a depth of six inches. Then, apply all-purpose, time-released fertilizer per package directions.
However, it’s important to note that you should not till steep slopes, as loose soil can lead to even more erosion. Instead, after removing weeds, dig a hole for each plant the same depth as the plant’s root ball and twice as wide. Center the plant in the hole and fill it with good potting soil that contains an all-purpose fertilizer.
Step 2: Choose the Right Ground Cover
When selecting ground cover for a steep slope, it’s important to choose a low-maintenance, fast-growing plant that can thrive in adverse conditions.
Trailing geraniums are a great option for low-maintenance ground cover that will quickly cover an area. Other options include daylilies, creeping phlox, lamb’s ears, stonecrop, and ornamental grasses.
Woody plants like creeping juniper, fragrant sumac, bearberry, and Russian arborvitae can also serve as good ground covers.
Step 3: Plant at an Angle
When planting ground cover on a steep slope, it’s important to plant at an angle so that the plants can spread flat over the ground.
Dig an angled hole and place the container in it frequently to adjust the angle of the hole as necessary. The top of the container soil should be level with the ground.
Flat growing ground covers are ideal for the steepest slopes. Small potted perennials can be planted slightly angled so that the root ball can be completely covered. Even upright perennials are very good at growing straight up even when planted at an angle.
Step 4: Maintain Your Ground Cover
Although ground covers are generally low maintenance plants, they will still require some care, especially until they become established in the landscape.
Until the new ground cover fills in, it can be assumed that weeds will make their way into the garden. Some ground covers are more prone to weed problems than others. Short, herbaceous ground covers are more likely to become infested with weeds than taller shrubs, because taller plants do a better job of blocking light from reaching the soil.
Assessing The Slope And Choosing The Right Ground Cover
Before planting ground cover on a steep slope, it’s important to assess the slope and choose the right ground cover.
First, evaluate the slope for erosion problems. If the hill is already planted or sodded, the grass and plants may be preventing erosion. However, even a planted hill, if not properly planted and mulched, may show signs of erosion. Look for areas where soil is exposed or where water is running off quickly.
Next, walk along an imaginary transect line diagonally across the paddock from post to post or take 10 steps in one direction and randomly turn and take 10 steps in another direction. If an area seems uniform, 8-10 assessments will give a good indication of the average ground cover. In areas of high variability, take at least 15 or more assessments depending on the size of the paddock or area. Draw the transect roughly on a piece of paper and note approximately where the assessments were taken. Remember to mark on the drawing where North, or the top of the paddock, is to give a reference point.
Once you have assessed the slope, choose a ground cover that can thrive in adverse conditions. Consider low-maintenance, fast-growing plants that can stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Trailing geraniums, daylilies, creeping phlox, lamb’s ears, stonecrop, ornamental grasses, creeping juniper, fragrant sumac, bearberry, and Russian arborvitae are all good options for ground covers on steep slopes.
When planting ground cover on a steep slope, plant at an angle so that the plants can spread flat over the ground. Dig an angled hole and place the container in it frequently to adjust the angle of the hole as necessary. The top of the container soil should be level with the ground. Flat growing ground covers are ideal for the steepest slopes.
Finally, maintain your ground cover until it becomes established in the landscape. Keep an eye out for weeds and remove them as necessary. Water the ground cover regularly, especially during dry spells. With proper care, your ground cover will thrive and prevent erosion on your steep slope.
Preparing The Slope For Planting
Preparing the slope for planting is a crucial step in creating a successful ground cover on a steep slope.
To start, it’s important to assess the slope’s drainage and water retention. The angle of the planting hole is critical, and it’s essential to dig the hole straight rather than in line with the sloping soil. This ensures that plants grow vertically and not at an angle, which can cause them to become unstable.
It’s also important to dig out the soil on the inside of the hole so that the planting area has a few inches of flat soil around it. This will help slow the water running down the slope until it can soak into the soil.
Additionally, creating a series of trenches or ‘swales’ across the bank can help hold water and allow it to seep slowly into the soil, preventing erosion while your plantings establish themselves in the landscape or garden.
When selecting ground cover for a steep slope, it’s important to choose a low-maintenance, fast-growing plant that can thrive in adverse conditions. Trailing geraniums, creeping phlox, lamb’s ears, and ornamental grasses are great options for low-maintenance ground cover that will quickly cover an area.
Finally, maintaining your ground cover is important until it becomes established in the landscape. Weeds will likely make their way into the garden until the new ground cover fills in. Some ground covers are more prone to weed problems than others, so it’s important to monitor and address any weed issues promptly. With proper preparation and maintenance, a ground cover on a steep slope can be a beautiful addition to any landscape.
Planting Techniques For Steep Slopes
Planting ground cover on a steep slope requires special techniques to ensure that the plants will thrive and effectively prevent erosion. Here are some tips for planting ground cover on a steep slope:
1. Choose plants with deep roots: To effectively stabilize the soil on a steep slope, it’s important to choose plants with deep roots that will anchor the plant to the slope. Good options include English ivy, creeping juniper, and Japanese spurge.
2. Plant in groups: Planting ground cover in groups can help prevent erosion by creating a dense mat of roots that will hold the soil in place. Planting in groups also helps to create a more visually appealing landscape.
3. Use mulch: Mulch can help prevent erosion by protecting the soil from heavy rains and high winds. Organic mulch, such as woodchips or bark, can also provide nutrients for the plants as it decomposes.
4. Water regularly: It’s important to water ground cover regularly until it becomes established in the landscape. This will help the plants develop strong roots and ensure that they can effectively prevent erosion.
5. Consider terracing: If the slope is particularly steep, consider terracing the area to create flat planting areas. This will make it easier to plant and maintain ground cover, while also reducing erosion.
By following these planting techniques, you can successfully plant ground cover on a steep slope and effectively prevent erosion while creating a beautiful landscape.
Watering And Maintenance Tips For Ground Cover On Slopes
When it comes to watering ground cover on a steep slope, it’s important to use the right method for your plants. Ground covers that are spaced closer together than two feet should be watered with a sprinkler system or with low-pressure mini-sprinklers. Plants spaced farther apart and those on steep slopes are most efficiently watered with a drip irrigation system.
Young plants should be given special watering attention. A steady watering program is important so that root systems develop fully. Watch the plants and make sure that water is getting to the roots. After the plants are growing, adjust the watering program to one of deeper and less frequent watering. This causes the roots to penetrate farther into the soil, making them firmly entrenched in the ground. In a drought situation, this could make the difference in the survival of the ground cover.
To check if your ground cover needs water, dig down to the root depth (6 to 12 inches) and withdraw a handful of soil. If it will not form a ball, it is most likely too dry. If it forms a ball that doesn’t crumble easily, it is probably too wet. Although sandy soil crumbles even when it is very wet, so keep that in mind.
In terms of maintenance, most ground covers require little attention beyond routine watering, mulching, fertilizing, and grooming. In many cases, maintenance takes very little time – especially when compared to the hours typically invested in lawn care. Ground covers, like any other plants, vary in their moisture needs, depending on the type and age of the plant. Soil texture and climate influence water needs as well. In general, however, most ground covers require regular water when young but may do very well with only occasional irrigation or with rainfall alone once they are mature and established.
It’s important to regularly check for weeds and remove them as soon as possible to prevent them from taking over your ground cover. Additionally, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of pests or diseases and take action immediately if necessary.
Dealing With Erosion And Weed Control On Steep Slopes
When planting ground cover on a steep slope, it’s important to consider the issue of soil erosion and weed control.
The most effective and natural way to control soil erosion on steep slopes and embankments is to plant vegetation. Grass, fescue, and leaves help to slow down raindrops as they fall, and the roots of the plants will also help hold the soil together, making it harder for water to wash it away. However, it’s important to choose the right type of ground cover that can effectively control erosion. Native ground covers are more effective at stormwater filtration than grasses, so consider using custom seed blends that mimic the native grasses in your area.
Cut holes in erosion control netting for planting the ground cover plants, using a razor knife. Cut the holes to the same diameter as the planting container. Follow the minimum spacing guidelines for the ground cover plants to determine the spacing between holes. Planting holes should be about two times the diameter of the root ball, but you can cut the holes in the netting to the same diameter and still dig the holes to the proper size.
When examining your property, you may find that there’s a thick layer of rock underneath the soil that won’t support vegetation (yet). In this case, you need to build up the thin soil and support it for a few seasons before anything can grow on your slope. That’s when geotextiles and erosion control blankets come in use. Erosion control blankets cover wide areas of soil on a steep hillside and protect your soil from erosion. Some of these blankets are synthetic materials known as “geotextiles.” Others are simple but strong netting crafted from organic material like coconut. They’re biodegradable and allow seeds to breathe, take root, and shoot up.
It’s important to note that spraying herbicides kills the roots that are holding your soil together. This can lead to erosion and gullies, so it’s best to avoid this method. Instead, consider planting low-maintenance ground covers that will quickly cover an area and prevent weed growth. Trailing geraniums, daylilies, creeping phlox, lamb’s ears, stonecrop, ornamental grasses, creeping juniper, fragrant sumac, bearberry, and Russian arborvitae are all great options for low-maintenance ground cover that can thrive in adverse conditions.
Maintaining your ground cover is also important. Until the new ground cover fills in, it can be assumed that weeds will make their way into the garden. Some ground covers are more prone to weed problems than others. Short, herbaceous ground covers are more likely to become infested with weeds than taller shrubs because taller plants do a better job of blocking light from reaching the soil. Regular weeding and mulching can help control weed growth until the ground cover becomes established.
Enjoying The Benefits Of A Low-maintenance, Beautiful Slope
One of the biggest benefits of planting ground cover on a steep slope is the low-maintenance upkeep required. Once the ground cover is established, it will require minimal watering, mowing, or fertilization. This means you can enjoy a beautiful, lush slope without spending hours each week maintaining it.
Another benefit is the visual appeal. Ground cover can add texture and color to your landscape, creating a natural and organic look. By selecting a variety of ground covers with different colors and textures, you can create a beautiful and dynamic slope that will be the envy of your neighbors.
Ground cover also helps to prevent soil erosion. When planted correctly, ground cover can help hold soil in place, preventing it from washing away during heavy rains or wind. This not only helps to protect your landscape but also helps to protect nearby water sources from sediment runoff.
Finally, ground cover can also provide habitat for wildlife. Many ground covers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, while others provide shelter for small animals like birds and rodents. By planting ground cover on your slope, you can help support local ecosystems and promote biodiversity in your community.
Overall, planting ground cover on a steep slope is a great way to enjoy a low-maintenance, beautiful landscape that provides numerous benefits for both you and the environment. With the right preparation and plant selection, you can create a stunning and sustainable slope that will thrive for years to come.