Need advice on selecting a ground cover to help with erosion

drcd27July 18, 2013

Hey guys! I am a new homeowner and in my inexperience, I'm not sure what to do about the slope in my backyard. I've lived here about a year, and thus far I've just mowed the slope. As you can imagine, that is very cumbersome for a push mower. I'd like to put some type of groundcover down on the slope so that I no longer have mow it. Additionally, the beginnings of an erosion problem have started. The slope goes down to a creek in the back (behind my chain link fence). I'd like to find a ground cover that is low maintenance and would help with the erosion.

My neighbors have successfully planted English ivy in their yard (we all have this same slope). It seems to work for them, but I have read contradictory claims about English ivy. Some say it does help with erosion, others say it contributes to it. I tried planting lily of the valleys that a coworker gave me, as well as monkey grass plants. All have died. I planted three English ivy plants recently just to see if they would grow. I've been watering them well and they haven't died yet. However, it's not too late for me to remove them.

Anyone have any suggestions for me? I live in St. Louis, Missouri. Our weather is unpredictable and often times, extreme. Our summers are extremely hot, winters can be mild to extremely cold, and spring and fall are just as unpredictable. Also, we have a LOT of rabbits in our neighborhood, and especially in my yard as the creek is a nice water source for them. The soil here is....clay-like, I guess? Right now the bare patches where grass isn't growing is very dry and dusty.

I uploaded pictures of the slope so you can get a visual (see link below). In the pictures you will see where the erosion is at its worst. The flower bed the previous owners installed is almost falling apart due to the erosion, and I've stuck two concrete piers in the hole at the end of the slope which has eroded out.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I would welcome any suggestions or tips.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of the slope

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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I wasn't able to see the pictures--perhaps because I'm still on dial-up--but it seems to me from what you write that you need something very sturdy. If I were you I'd look into Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Lo' or Hypericum calycinoides--both low growing suckering shrubs.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 10:39AM
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ken_mce(zone 4, NY)

Day Lilies? (Hemerocallis)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 7:48PM
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English Ivy can be very invasive in some areas. I suspect those who questioned how good it is for erosion control were thinking of areas where it out competed something better

Many experts say grass...particularly American Beach Grass and perennial Beach the best sort of plant for erosion control.

Vines are often good for erosion control. I'm fond Trumpet Vine but others consider it too aggressive.

Plants that are adapted to grow on beaches are good for erosion Virginia Rose, Bearberry, Jersey Tea etc.

Lowbush Blueberry is decent for erosion control, and is often found naturally on cliffs.

Why do you think plants die there? What is your soil like? Wet or dry? Clay or sand?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:33PM
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@edlincoln - The soil here is clay-like I guess. It's fairly dry. We do not get a lot of rain where I live.

There is already grass there; that's part of the problem - I'm tired of mowing it. Thank you for your suggestions - I'm looking into vines.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 10:33PM
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Rosa wichurana poterifolia, is a wild rose that self roots along the bottom side of its' canes. It covers an area of c. 5 square feet by c. 12-18 inches in height.
A larger form is R. wichurana, which does the same, we've used both to stop erosion here in California.
It used to be called The Memorial Rose because it was planted so often in cemetaries to remember those who've passed on. Like most wild roses, it needs little to no care when grown in conditions similar to its' native environment, after it becomes established.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 6:37PM
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I have similar conditions and have been doing some research. I'm probably going to go with a prostrate or creeping rosemary. Nice fragrance, pretty blue flowers, and rabbits/deer don't bother it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 9:21AM
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For good erosion control or slope stabilization, you need evergreen - you do not want rain or irrigation water to hit bare soil. I'd consider Cotoneaster dammeri - low growing, evergreen, fast to spread and about as tough a groundcover imaginable.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 6:20PM
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