want a groundcover for a hill

hjihji(Vermont near NH)August 27, 2004

We want to put a groundcover for a hill that we'd rather not mow. Any suggestions? Here's what we'd like

1.will crowd out the grass that's there now.

2.Will stick around in winter to keep the hill from eroding (even it it's all dried out).

3. Will spread, but hopefully will still be "controllable."

The hill is protected from wind, so I'm not too worried about wind damage.

Also, I was wondering if we could plant anything this time of year, or should we wait until spring?

Thanks for your help.

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I have two areas on sloping and I have planted both laminum with pink flowers and creeping phlox with pink flowers in the same place. In another area I planted laminum with white flowers and yellow flowers. Due to being in zone 3 I cover both areas with straw during the winter. Both are controllable in an area that can be dry.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 8:29PM
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yomamanem(7B Georgia)

Blue rug juniper is used on hills. Blue Pacific Juniper is a taller plant that can also be used.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 9:23PM
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Jimburgh(z6 PA)

Am looking for a controllable ground cover for a circular area about 30 sq. ft. in area and under a pine tree. The area faces south & is located on my front lawn in Pittsburgh
PA ( Zone 6 ) ! It would be nice if the groundcover were green all year long with , possibly , some flowering in the
Spring - Summer times ! I'd prefer the groundcover to be low
say no more than 8 inches high !
Anyone have any ideas ?? Thanks much ! Jimburgh

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 11:36PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Nothing is going to crowd out your grass. It will have to be removed. Then you will have lots of choices. But first, we need more information. How much sun? What direction does the hill face? How will you water until the groundcover is established? How large is this hill?how high?how wide?degree of slope? Where on your property is the hill? What does the rest of your landscaping look like?your house style?

Add some extra enriched topsoil; limb up your pine to give more light if necessary. "Green all year, with flowers, no more than 8" high" is pretty much the definition of vinca, the old tried and true. However, there are several cultivars out--a variegated lesf, ones with white and blue as well as the common purple/blue flowers. Pachysandra is also evergreen and low, no flowers, butthere is a cultivarcalled 'Green Sheen' with a shiny patentleather-look leaf taht is interesting. Not evergreen, but attractive, would be an underplanting of several miniature hostas with varying bloom times. Two other excellent groundcover plants for this situation would be epimediums(rubrum is probably the most vigourous spreader) or any of the bigroot geraniums, depending on the color of bloom you like. If you are not familar with these plants, do a Google image search for photos and information.
I can give you names of specific cultivars if you pick a plant or two that you are interested in.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 7:39AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

hjihji, Ginger brings up some good points, and knowing that info would help with suggestions.

Off the top of my head, however, the first thing Ithought of was sedum. I have a small slope, about five to six feet high and about fifty feet long, and I'm in the process of covering the majority of this with sedum floriferum Weihenstephaner's Gold. It only gets about six inches high, and has tiny, bright yellow flowers in spring. The dried flower heads are a rust color and are also quite attractive in my opinion. It spreads well but is not invasive, can take heat and dry spells, and in fall/winter here in CT, it turns a lovely shade of purplish/burgundy. I don't know yet if it stays that way *all* winter as it has gotten snow cover in the two years since I planted it. I don't know how it would fare in your winter. It also is very easy to propagate - just cut off a few stems and stick them in the ground! By the way, my sedum is right along the street, and the wind, sand from winter, and snow dumped on it from the plow have no ill effects on it.

And yes, I also think you will have to remove your grass before planting anything.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 4:07PM
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Hello to both hjihji and Jimburgh, I've found that lamium will cover an area quite quickly and also it will iradicate your grass because it has continued to widen my flower bed where it is growing by creeping out over the grass and covering it so densly that the grass ceases to grow there. It will grow in either sun or shade. Mine is in the shade almost completely and just keeps growing. I have all three flowering types, the yellow which blooms in spring, the white and purple which bloom in summer and fall. The yellow has the shortest blooming period. I am currently digging out some of it in order to use the space for other plants, so if you want to contact me directly, maybe we could work out a trade and I could send you some healthy large clumps. Rachel

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 4:51AM
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gardencrazyinwa(PNW WA)

Nothing will crowd out the grass. You are going to have to spray it it kill it and then shave off the grass. Trailing Verbens works great. Has wonderful, purple, red or white flowers and will grow about 3 feet X 3 feet in one year.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 10:46PM
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rebeccanne(Z9 OR)

I would try heather and heath. They are tough, evergreen and some of them are no taller than a few inches, while some will get taller. Lots of colors and you can get flowers all year if you choose winter and summer bloomers. Its really pretty to see a hill covered with heathers.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2004 at 12:11AM
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Look into Diervilla lonicera, Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle I think that it will do what you ask. I have some pictures of it on a hill in Highland Park, Rochester.
Grows 3 ft high and wide and suckers to fill in. Not invasive as non native honeysuckle are.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2004 at 7:49PM
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painterbug(z8 Hell)


I too am trying not to mow my embankment. My problem is that my embankment goes on for days as it borders the sidewalk all the way around the property line on a corner.

I am doing my in sections as thinking about the whole space is too intimitating.

Things I have found successful.
Ivy: takes a season to get established but evergreen and low.

Vinca: evergreen and low..easily trimmed and shallow roots. Has small flowers in spring, will spread where it touches the ground. I like it.

Thyme: evergreen, low, herb.

Strawberry: evergreen, low, spreads, flowers and you can eat them. (I am planning a patch of these).

Lirope: Evergreen, tough, flowers purple spikes. Some folks don't care for it, but it is tough and I like it. Less then 1 foot tall and spreads. It would crowd out grass eventually. Very drought tolerant.

Lamb's ears and silvermound are new for me but are also supposed to be evergreen and have silver color. So far so good.

There are also alot of non evergreen plants that could be used with the above for low maintaince interest all year incl.
Lantana, bulbs, lillys, fairy rose (blooms from spring until fall and is a low trailing pink flowering) it can be rooted by layering and mine was under a pine tree and still bloomed enough to be noticable. It does have thorns however. Daffodils planted among vinca and ivy is also a nice inexpensive way to vavoom a green spot for a couple of weeks out of the year. They too will bloom in shade and multiply.

The only ground cover that I don't much care for is Virginia creeper, alot of people love it, but for me it is just too invasive and hard to remove, so be wary of that one.

There are so many options, research and have fun.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 9:58AM
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I guess it really depends on the look you are going for. Do you like perennials or evergreen?

I'm not sure if they grow in PA, but what about heathes or heathers (check out heathandheathers.com they have tons). They can be beautiful, and come in many colors with blooms at different seasons. You can achieve a very rich textured look with them.

Junipers also come in many varieties, colors and shapes. Again, not sure if they grow in your area.

If you are going for a perennial flower look the list is endless, and many of the above suggestions would be perfect.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2004 at 9:50PM
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sbriggs(z7 NC)

I agree with Rebecca above who suggested heaths and heathers, in fact there is a fantastic photo in the gallery section of Landscpe Design on this forum that shows what a hillside mass planting looks like, I would also suggest mixing in some low growing/mounding conifers like blue rug juniper, bird's nest spruce, etc. to add some contrasting colors.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hillside of Heaths and Heathers!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 3:33PM
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hjihji(Vermont near NH)

I want to thank everyone for their input to my question. I've been thinking a lot about how to proceed (next spring) with our hill. Here's what I've decided: sbriggs, when can you come to our house to plant our garden?????


    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 9:03PM
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Ivy is low and evergreen, but spreads more than Virginia Creeper.
Virginia Creeper really comes out in Fall, when it turns red.
I have a small hill, that I'm trying to encourage Virginia Creeper on now.
It has just begun to glow red, what little there is of it.
Someone in town has a whole lawn of Virginia Creeper.
There are many lawns of ivy, but only one of Virginia Creeper.
Virginia Creeper is not considered an invasive species anywhere, as ivy is, especially in the West.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2004 at 10:23PM
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What are good alternatives for variegated vinca minor? I can't seem to get it at our nurseries in Western Mass. I have a shady spot and want something that is low, with a variegated leaf.

This is technically zone 5b, but that is optimistic. I go for four when possible.

Many thanks.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 7:48AM
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