Ground cover on a slope?

jbrickmMay 2, 2010

Can someone suggest good shrubs to plant on a steep slope to prevent erosion and keep out weeds? I live north of Atlanta.

Basically, we are going to have to cut down two dead trees on a slope in front of my house. The slope's quite steep and I'm concerned that once the trees are gone, they will be overgrown with weeds. I don't think pinestraw or landscape fabric will hold up in strong rain. I'm not keen on English Ivy or invasive ground covers.

Any ideas on what plants/shrubs can do the trick?

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Juniper is a tried and true plant for that situation.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 7:50AM
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Juniper would be my first sugestion as well although, you could try Cotoneaster, Vica major (plant this one at the top of the hill since it likes to grow down), Pachysandra or Creeping Raspberry as well.

Invasive is a relative term when dealing with groundcovers. These aren't impossible to contain but, like most grouncovers, can spread widely in a short time.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 5:06PM
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I have the same issue.
I put garden fabric year before last and junipers every 3-4 ft and I have soil erosion everywhere. The junipers are not spreading as fast as I thought they would.

Would there be fruit trees I could grow that could grow well on slope?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 10:54PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Any fruit that tends to get fireblight is apparently a good choice for a slope.
Keep in mind you have to prune to have access to the fruit, that the slope shouldn't be too steep and that good drainage is a must but they don't like to be constantly dry (to get good fruit and keep disease away).
Apples and pears are great fruit for slopes. I came across some stuff on the internet from the 90's where a farmer in Georgia was discussing the benefits of fruit on slopes. That is where I plant to plant mine!

(and no, I didn't keep that link!! d'oh!)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 11:11PM
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Thanks everyone. What varieties/cultivars of Juniper are native to the area or tend to do well in Georgia?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:04AM
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All the groundcover junipers are non-native, but they are not invasive. 'Blue Pacific' is a nice one, in my opinion; more attractive than 'Blue Rug' which stays quite low.

A native groundcover shrub (but which is not evergreen) is fragrant sumac - Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low' . I am not sure where you can get it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 6:27AM
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Hey Esh -- I'm still working on my slope too. And I'm VERY glad I am doing it slowly to prevent erosion. After last night and today, I think all my dirt would be down the hill and on the sidewalk. So far, so good -- the gradual removal of grass and new plantings seems to be working.

About the two junipers.... Are you saying that Blue Pacific gets sort of tall? (I know that is a relative term. It's still a groundcover.) I originally thought Blue Rug would be good -- and I like that it is low. I'm going to do junipers sort of in the middle of the area, with other taller stuff around it for contrast.

I'd like to hear more about your opinions on this -- why Pacific vs. Rug..... Is height the only factor in your preference? Does one spread faster or anything?

I want to plant the right thing!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 8:28AM
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Thank you GGG aka garden goddess :-)).

Do you have a particular nursery that you are partial to? Is it online? Could you kindly share. Would fig grow well on the slope? I think I would like dwarf varieties of apple and pear...sounds like a plan.

Thank you all!!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 8:45AM
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You are right to work your project slowly, bagsmom, and today's rain is a perfect day to prove that.

I suppose it is a personal preference, but I have never seen 'Blue Rug' look good - it is too short and weeds that do pop up in it are easily seen so it always looks a bit messy to me.

'Blue Pacific' is a bit taller (perhaps 8-12 inches) so that weeds seem to have a harder time getting enough light to be a problem.

Blue pacific picture:

Blue rug picture:

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 9:18AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

In the South, Semi-dwarf fruiting rootstock is more common especially locally. You can prune fruit to whatever size you like to keep canopy low and small but you also need to ensure then that you prune to a more open canopy as fruit cut low tends to make dense foliage (when then causes low fruiting due to shade).

You are late for fruit planting now. Most nurseries have put their fruit stock into dormancy through cold storage. I like Johnsons, there is also Lawson's Applies, for bare root you can try Isons but I've been none too thrilled with them.
Figs on a slope would work fine. You can probably find a fig that will do well at a local flea market or store.
I do not recommend buying fruit from a "big box" store because it is not necessarily grown on root stock for the South and you don't always know if it's a good cultivar for your location.
Johnson's has a good website, and I suggest searching for the Atlanta Fruits yahoo group and joining to ask questions. Loads of great advice there. Far more knowledgeable than I am!
Also good to consider are pomegranates and pineapple guava. They don't get to giant.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Thanks Esh!

The weed deterrent factor is enough to sell me on the Blue Pacific!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:55PM
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