Suggestions for roadside slope

blowell(5b)April 20, 2013

I have a stone wall in my front yard which borders the road. There is about a 3' drop to the road. Of course it is sand, rocks, salt, etc. I've tried Yarrow, catmint, sedum, but nothing takes. I wasted 2 yards of mulch a couple of years ago, and I'm hesitant to add fresh soil due to the steep slope and the snow plows. Any sugestions?

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diggerdee zone 6 CT

What is the sun situation? I have a similar slope and I am trying creeping sedum. It seems to be working, but spreading slowly. It may even be too hot, dry, and sandy for the sedum to spread quickly. It does get almost full sun, plus the heat of the black asphalt.

Below is a list that might be helpful. I just did a quick google search...

Dee

Here is a link that might be useful: xeriscaping groundcover plants

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 12:01PM
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blowell(5b)

Thanks for the info. I too have creeping sedum. It's been there for a couple of years at least and looks worse and worse each year. This year I'm pulling it up and transplanting it somewhere else. The biggest problem I have with amending the soil is it is just a big pile of rocks under the sand and stuff. I'd hate to put in the work and money for soil treatment only to have the snow plow destroy it next winter.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 1:25PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

yes, I would not bother amending the soil either. The plows will get it, more sand will be piled up, and you'll be back at square one.

My slope is actually pretty solid rock ledge. A few feet down the road, in front of my neighbor's lot, there is actually a piece of rock that sticks out from his little slope. People speed way too fast down my road, and I often hear a big clunk/bang/thump when someone hits that piece of rock. Have to admit to a rather smug sense of righteousness at thinking that's what they get for speeding.

But I digress.... my point in bringing up the ledge is to show that I have very little soil as well. Hence the sedum. I thought that could grow in the shallow, poor soil. And it does grow, and even looks decent, it just isn't spreading like people keep insisting it will! I'm sorry to hear that yours is not doing well in that spot.

I tried creeping phlox in this spot, and while it looks good for a season or two (and is gorgeous in bloom) it just does not thrive for me. I gave up replacing it when I realized I was replacing way too much on a yearly basis.

Have you tried thyme? I see juniper is on the list in the link above too. How about heathers? I really know nothing about them but think they like dry conditions (although if your sedum isn't making it, I don't know....)

I'm assuming you need to keep whatever you plant on the low side, to allow for sight lines, etc.

Maybe a low-growing, spreading euonymus? Still not sure what your sun situation is.

Dee

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 2:37PM
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seb99

Try coltsfoot. It loves road sand & salt!

It's the first flower you see on roadsides announcing Spring. It forms a dandelion-like seed in a few weeks. Collect and seed your area.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:48PM
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TimMAz6(6b)

If it's sunny I'd plant Yuccas.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:06PM
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edlincoln(6A)

I researched a similar question recently. Plants that are adapted to grow on the coastline tend to be very salt tolerant and like sand.

This is a list of plants that the Massachusetts government recommends for erosion control on the beach.

http://www.mass.gov/czm/coastal_landscaping/plants.htm

These other links might also be useful:
http://www.edgeofthewoodsnursery.com/wp-content/themes/atahualpa351/pdf/salt%20tolerant%20list.pdf

http://www.mailordernatives.com/servlet/the-Coastal-Salt-Tolerant-Plants/Categories

Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus, a relative of the pea that has dangly vines, purple flowers, and grows in sand dunes) Virginia Rose (which has been known to grow on sandy beaches where it is splattered with seawater) Seaside Goldenrod, Showy Aster, Jersey Tea (a low flowering shrub that fixes nitrogen), sweet fern, and Bearberry (a low groundcover that produces berries...loks a lot like cranberry and a little like creeping juniper, but with edible red berries and more salt tolerant. Grows slowly though.) are all tolerant of sand and salt. False Indigo (Baptisia australis) likes gravel, but I don't know how it handles salt. For that matter, cranberry loves sand (but not salt or drought).

This post was edited by edlincoln on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 13:32

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:04AM
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javaandjazz(z6 CT)

I don't know what to tell you to put in there but I am very vigilant about the sand. I go out with my leaf blower several times throghout the winter and blow the sand off that strip otherwise it just builds up quickly.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:16AM
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nandina(8b)

Having landscaped (and I know how tough your situation is) similar problems here are a few thoughts to try:
1. Every early spring spread handfuls of gypsum evenly over the area. Do a bit of searching to understand why I suggest this. i.e search---salt soil and gypsum. Also, your search will lead to some new introductions of chemical combinations developed for this type of situation. Farm stores and some of the box stores sell gypsum and related products.

2. You mention rock ledges. Is there the possibility that you could wrap the roots of young plants in dripping wet unmilled sphagnum moss and jam these in under sections of the ledges where it appears that roots could follow fractures. Sometimes this requires reworking the soil in each planting spot to reach the stone. Bar Harbor juniper responds well to this planting method.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:24AM
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blowell(5b)

Thank's everyone for the great advise. Forgot to mention that it is full sun. Also forgot to mention hat I'm not a fan of Junipers. They just don't excite me. I'll look into all your suggestions and try something new this year.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:50AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Keep in mind that what the cities and towns put down these days may not be actual "salt". I'm not sure, but I'm just bringing up that point as a start for further research. I read something about some kind of beet juice mixture. May have some salt-like substances or chemicals in it, but I don't know enough about it to be sure. It may make no difference in the garden and may act like real salt, but just thought I'd point that out.

Saw a huge spread of vinca on a slope in my travels this morning and thought of you. I tend to think of vinca as more of a shade/part shade plant, (although this patch was along the road) but have no personal experience growing it, so I'm not sure. But I do believe it is shallow-rooted. Would this work in that hot full sun situation? I'm thinking not but again, just throwing out ideas....

Dee

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:19AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I suggest one of the spreading hardy mums. I have 2 of them: Chrysanthemum weyrichii 'White Bomb' which is about 4 inches in height until it blooms with white daisies at 6-8", and a taller, quite double coppery colored one which I no longer have a name for (if it even came with a name.) Both of mine grow at the front edge of a dryish garden where the plow dumps snow and occasionally knocks off the edge of the plants. They don't mind the snow or gravel from the drive getting dumped on them. 'White Bomb' is native to the Japanese shore I think, so is quite comfortable with your tough conditions. Neither is lovely at this time of year before the foliage really gets going, but I have various bulbs planted there that distract from the mums until they start growing. Bulbs that haven't minded the plow deposits include daffodils which are large and bright enough to be quite visible along the road. You could also look into some of the tougher day lilies which are pretty tolerant of a range of light, soil, moisture and are a common sight along roads.

This is a situation that may be appropriate for some of the aggressive spreaders that we often regret planting. Coltsfoot, mentioned above, is one of those, as would be periwinkle/myrtle/Vinca.

As Nandina suggested, tucking plants in around rocks or at the base of the wall may well help them get a good start as it may mitigate the heat and dryness of the site some. I might try some small starts of catmint again and tuck the roots in at the base of the stone wall at the top of the slope to see if it is happier there. If it is happy, it will cascade down your slope. There are probably other plants that if established will either cascade or spread through rhizomes down the slope.

Regardless, I would probably try planting several different plants and hope that enough are happy that they will fill in. You may well end up with an area that looks more like a mixed border than just groundcover, and have a longer season of interest. Going out with a weed whizzer or pruning shears in late fall before the snow and cutting the perennials back to a few inches will leave things looking as tidy as possible for the winter and make it less likely that the snowplow will uproot plants. Also, remember that to get most plants started, you will need to water if there are long dry periods during the first growing season until they have developed a good root system. A very long hose connected to a soaker hose at the top of the slope for this season or hauling out water for handwatering will make a remarkable difference in your success rate long-term. Once they get their feet under them they won't need watering.

C. 'White Bomb' right now in my yard, the tiny sprigs of green scattered throughout the photo. As you can tell, it's a spreader, but plays well with others: with foliage of Colchicum, bearded Iris, Scilla, and daffodils in this photo. In a few weeks it will be a blanket of ferny looking green with a few perennials coming up through.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:29AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I had Cerastrum (Snow-in-summer) growing for years on a steep slope along the street. The soil (if you can call it that) was rocks, chunks of asphalt, broken concrete and bricks. It just thrived and covered everything over. If a piece of it got broken, it would just root where it fell and spread some more. Also, if height is not an issue, then you might try winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum). It grows to maybe 4-5 feet in a rambling manner that will cover rocks, etc. It has evergreen stems, and attractive yellow flowers sometimes as early as January, continuing in to May. In summer it has tiny leaves that will just disappear in fall. It roots wherever it touches the ground so it will cling to the slope no problem.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 4:07PM
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casey1gw

On my slope I use plants that I don't have to really care for and are aggressive spreaders. I grow black eyed susans, geranium oxonianum (variegated foliage, pink flowers and spreads), various grasses and easy daylilies.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:02PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

My computer has a bad habit of loading slowly (it certainly is not MY bad habit of being impatient!) and I don't know how many times I don't wait long enough, go to click on a link or something, and just as I click the page jumps and I end up opening something completely different.

Well, I just signed into GW, went to click on the Perennials forum, and as I clicked, the page jumped and I opened a different forum by mistake. The forum? Plants for Dificult Places.

Who knew? I didn't know we had such a forum. But anyway, I immediately thought of this thread and thought I would share my discovery in case you can find some help there!

:)
Dee

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants for Difficult Places

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:44PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

I am a big fan of John at Katsura Gardens (nursery) in Plymouth. He covered a slope like yours w/ Lymne Grass.
Cheap, spreads FAAAAST, comes up VERY early (i.e. mine is already 12"H) and stays beauty blue all 3 seasons.
Holds the soil; can take any abuse; thrives in crappy soil; drought tolerant. Love it!
best,
mindy
www.cottonarboretum.com

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 3:02AM
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blowell(5b)

•Posted by nandina 8b (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 8:24

Having landscaped (and I know how tough your situation is) similar problems here are a few thoughts to try:
1. Every early spring spread handfuls of gypsum evenly over the area. Do a bit of searching to understand why I suggest this. i.e search---salt soil and gypsum. Also, your search will lead to some new introductions of chemical combinations developed for this type of situation. Farm stores and some of the box stores sell gypsum and related products.
2. You mention rock ledges. Is there the possibility that you could wrap the roots of young plants in dripping wet unmilled sphagnum moss and jam these in under sections of the ledges where it appears that roots could follow fractures. Sometimes this requires reworking the soil in each planting spot to reach the stone. Bar Harbor juniper responds well to this planting method.

At 45 years old, I'm back in school at UMass Amherst studying sustainable horticulture. One of the soil lectures was on the topic of gypsum and poor soil conditions. Funny thing is I never connected it to my roadside area.

•Posted by arbo_retum z5 ,WinchstrMA (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 3:02

I am a big fan of John at Katsura Gardens (nursery) in Plymouth. He covered a slope like yours w/ Lymne Grass.
Cheap, spreads FAAAAST, comes up VERY early (i.e. mine is already 12"H) and stays beauty blue all 3 seasons.
Holds the soil; can take any abuse; thrives in crappy soil; drought tolerant. Love it!
best,
mindy

Mindy. I love the look of blue lymne grass. I might try it, along with some of the other suggestions posted by everyone, and see what takes. Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 6:58AM
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blowell(5b)

Well, I bit the bullett and picked up a couple of creeping junipers. If I have any mother-of thyme left after my stepping stone path, I'll put some of that in, and maybe some wholly thyme from my brother's garden (he'll never know). I my even pick up some cerastium of I can find some. The slope is about 70' long, so I'll try a few and see if anything takes.
Don't remember if I mentoned this, but I also had yarrow, catmint, batchelor's buttons, dragon's blood sedum and creeping sedum on this slope, and most did nothing or came close to death till I tansplanted them in my other gardens where they are thriving.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:08PM
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