Groundcover for Slope in Full Sun

TrillyFilly(5)March 15, 2012

I posted this on New to Gardening but haven't received any responses yet and this forum seems a little more active. My boyfriend and I bought our first house about 2 years ago. I've been working on the flower beds and am now ready to tackle my next project. Off to the side of the front of our house is a small slope which is hideously covered in a thorny mess of something, overgrown grass, rocks, and so forth. It is about 35' long by 8' wide. This year I am planning to get rid of all the unwanteds and put a nice groundcover down instead. I am looking for something with the following criteria:

1. Perennial in Zone 5 (New USDA map says that I am actually 6a now)

2. Must take full sun (there is almost no shade available here)

3. Moderate to fast growth

4. I would prefer something that was evergreen and am interested in something that has a nice fall tinge to it.

5. Minimal maintenance.

Here is what I am looking at:

1. Purple wintercreeper : I like the quickness that it covers areas but am concerned that the purple/red will be far too bright in the fall and winter. I was thinking of putting some conifers interspersed but am not sure if the wintercreeper is too aggressive even for ths.

2. Ceratostigma plumbaginnoides/leadwort : I love the fall color on these and the blue seems muted enough. I've heard mixed reviews about whether this is actually hardy in my area. It is listed to 6a on most sites.

3. Vinca Minor : I like that it is evergreen, however, again hardiness is a concern.

I've also looked into various types of Ivy but do want something a little more interesting. Also, a monster of a plant is not a problem here. It is not connected to other flower beds. It will border the lawn but we can easily maintain that or put up a small border for containment.

Thank you!!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

If it was my problem, I'd go with groundcover junipers. Neither the plumbago or the vinca are aggressive enough in sun to smother grassy weeds so it will be a necessary hassle to weed it.

Shade would actually be less of a problem since the weeds are easier to deal with.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your response! I looked at a juniper too - they are just so common here and I was thinking about going for something a little different. They are also pretty pricey compared to the other plants for covering that much space.

I really wish I had some shade there. The sun just beats down on it all day AND it slopes down towards the road so anything near the bottom takes a beating. There are so many groundcovers for shade or part-shade but not too many for full sun.

I've been trying to read up on the plants that everyone says are TOO aggressive and they can't get rid of, in hopes that one of those would be suitable.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 3:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have several areas of vinca where I am and while it's hardy enough and has pretty periwinkle blue flowers, mad_gallica is right that weeds grow right up through it. It covers a short, very steep hill in full sun on the west side of my house. There are briars growing up through it along with milkweed, a few perennials planted many years ago and oak seedlings from acorns I assume were dropped by critters.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 3:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

If you research a bit, I think you'll find that there are several types of junipers, as well as other low-growing conifers, that can give quite a variety of forms, textures and colors. From deep greens, to bluish-greens to yellow-greens. Many of them change colors in fall. The variation in heights as well as textures can make quite a display.

Here is a link to one online nursery just to give you an idea, but you can probably find most of these locally at any decent nursery.

Here is a link that might be useful: ground cover conifers

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 6:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
diggerdee zone 6 CT

This might be going in the opposite direction of what you are looking for, but how about a creeping sedum? Can take the heat and the sun, is really tough, beautiful in bloom, and many have a nice burgundy foliage in fall/winter.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

TF, I have a large slope in the front of my house. The first thing I did was plant cotoneaster all over it. They were small sprigs but grew very quickly. It was nice groundcover shrub that got white flowers and orange berries in fall.

BUT, I got sooooo bored with how plain it was.
You have a lot of room and full sun, so you could think about putting in many shrubs that would help hold soil in place and still be interesting for much of the year. I used shrubs to mitigate how steep the slope appeared by putting some taller shrubs (3') towards the base of the slope. I don't know what grade slope you are dealing with.

One of my favorites on the slope is 'Fairy' rose. I also have spirea and then different perennials like sedum 'Autumn Joy', purple asters, a low goldenrod and other shrubs and perennials. I actually planted 4 large peonies on the slope and they give a nice pop of color in early summer.

Is the slope in an area that you don't see much and you just need something to help with erosion? If it is a spot that gets a lot of views you might want to try to mix it up a little bit. Once I converted the slope to a mixed border of shrubs, perennials and bulbs I was much more satisfied.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 6:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You've gotten some good plant suggestions so far, including to do a mixture, which is usually my preference if the area will be visible. T2D's front slope mixed planting is gorgeous. Perhaps she'll add a photo or two.

Vinca should be fully hardy for you since it is for me. However, I find it crawls over my barrier (a 5" deep band of edging material with a row of bricks alongside) and roots in the lawn, so I wouldn't recommend it.

This might be a good spot for variegated bishop's weed(Aegopodium), which is normally a pest since it doesn't play well with others, but if you want just one kind of plant, put a barrier around the bed and it should be OK. You could plant bulbs to come up through it. This might be evergreen for you, not sure.
Ajuga would work and you could try some of the more resiliant coral bells(Heuchera)

I have a rather steep bed in an area behind the house that isn't in our normal traffic pattern that I needed to fill quickly to prevent erosion, and since I had a bunch of the old-fashioned daylilies that I had dug up elsewhere in the garden, I used those. I'm now adding a few shrubs and other hardy perennials that I think will be willing to duke it out with the daylilies. Old-fashioned daylillies aren't evergreen, but they might be something you'd want to throw into a mixed bed as they are fine with full sun and don't need lots of water.

Regardless of what you end up planting in the bed, prevention of weeds while your plants get established is really important. You want to kill everything that's currently growing there, whether by smothering it (do a search for lasagna gardening) or by covering it with black plastic for a couple of months or whatever method you choose. After planting, you might want to put down corn gluten which will discourage seeds from germinating and then a heavy layer of mulch on all the bare soil areas both to keep moisture in and prevent light from reaching the weed seeds and bits of roots that are in all soils and will sprout with light. Mulch will also prevent erosion until the soil is covered with plants and make any weeds that do come up easier to pull. Also, install your outer barrier either before you plant or just after since if you delay and grass crawls sideways into the bed, you will battle it forever.

Here's a previous thread that might help you out:

Here is a link that might be useful: New England groundcover FAQ

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you everyone! I live quite close to a guy in Connecticut that has quite a selection of evergreens in all different shades (link below). Perhaps that is just the things to do.

T2D- I think I would get bored of one thing also honestly. And, if I've planted something invasive then I'll curse my prior self for having chosen it!

I've heard about lasagna gardening but haven't researched it in depth.

Thanks so much for all of your opinions! I changed my mind so many times on what groundcover and I think my main issue kept coming back that it was such a large space to have one plant. I wanted interest without being too overwhelming. I think a mixture is the way to go here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Variegated Foliage

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I used wintercreeper (euyonomous coloratus fortunei) on a similar slope on one side and cotoneaster (Coral Beauty) on the other side. A wide curvy grass path bordered by a stone wall separated the two areas. I also included trees and shrubs. After about 10 years, the wintercreeper was scaring me with its far-reaching habits and I laboriously pulled it out over a couple of years (it laughs at roundup). (To actually kill it, I had to let the roots bake in the hot sun on a tarp for a couple of weeks, turning periodically so no life survived hiding on the bottom).

It is very nice in the winter (if snow does not cover it!) It gets a deep burgundy bronze color. Not too bright at all.

Another choice is Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Vinca likes a bit of shade.

I'll post a picture if I can find one.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here are some pictures of it.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's a thread that about half way down has some nice photos of T2D's front slope garden in May. It looks just as stunning in the summer with different textures of foliage and some flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thyme2Dig's slope garden

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 9:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I just feasted on that What is Blooming in Your Garden May 2011 thread (Thanks, pixie_lou!).

thyme2dig's slope garden is always lovely, but just the reminder of May (MAY!!) made my morning.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:11AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Show us your gardens - a photo thread - March 2015
Welcome to the New England Gardening "Show Us...
Landscape Design Council Awards at Boston Flower & Garden Show
I received a press release from Frances Wheeler regarding...
Annie_NH Annual Plant Swap June 7, 2015
Hello, this is Annie's daughter Becky. We will be having...
Open Gardens for 2015
I got a brochure in the mail from the Garden Conservancy...
Tropical Houseplants in CT
Besides Logee's, are there any other nurseries that...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™