Dry Dirt, Dense Shade, Steep Bank

desperationfalls(z5 MA)June 22, 2005

OK--18 years ago, I ripped out the deep green hostas (the old reliables), most of the lily of the valley and wild autumn asters--from this steep bank in my backyard. The

canopy is three layers deep-top with 80 foot big oak trees, then some smaller maple seedlings, then rhododendron and azalea combinations.

Now, the hill--which is mostly dry dirt has been slowly eroding and I need to plant some stuff which will hold it inplace.

Should I go back to the old reliable hostas, etc.? Should I find some kind of netting which I can anchor down to prevent the dirt from washing away?

Any advice here would be muchly appreciated.

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Kathy46(Z6 Pa)

Have you checked out the Ajugas ?? Groundcover, very hardy and tolerant to a lot of things.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 4:09PM
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In Pennsylvania, wild Mountain Laurel seems to do well in a situation like that.

Maybe if you chose the right cultivated varieties, they would self-seed others and spread over the entire bank. It grows rather slowly, though.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 2:15AM
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geoffc(z5b MA)

If erosion is a big problem, you might consider some jute mat to hold the slope while you get something growing.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 8:44PM
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If the hostas didn't croak, I'd might use them again. I have a similar bank and planted pachysandra by using a bulb planter and adding humus to each planting hole in the spring while we still got rain. You use pieces with at least some root attached and wind them around your hand before sticking in the hole. On our back bank, now that we're not poor grad students I covered the bank with a layer of compost and dug out a little hole and blended the soil that way.

Another plant that does well in dry shade is lamium of different sorts. Ajuga doesn't do so well when dry.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 12:28PM
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desperationfalls(z5 MA)

Yup--the problem is that the opposing bank is covered with pachysandra which is now getting totally out of control and going every where. I've just put back all of the oldtimer hostas--I KNOW they will work. Thanks for the ideas of the
jute mat for the erosion. Farther up the yard, I had
planted some epimedium about 10 years ago and then forgot
about them--they are flourishing. So, yes, there
are possibilities. I've transplanted about 5 Japanese painted fern and two maidenhair fern which just thrive elsewhere around the yard-so I might have some luck with
these as well.

Thanks much for all the ideas! (We do have mountain
laurel which does well--but it is about 7 - 8 feet
tall and I'm looking for things not much higher than
about a foot)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 2:11PM
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A really great plant for dry shade is epimedium, commonly referred to as 'Fairy Wings'. They come in so many foliage colors, flowers, etc. They look more delicate than they really are.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 7:03PM
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I had the same problem. I ended up planting Euonymous. The yellow-variegated foliage looks great from a distance and it does well in dry shade on my bank. My problem was that this was a very visible spot from my house, it is the bank of a stream that I really wanted to look good. The yellow Euonymous is interplanted with Vinca Minor. I also have a rhodo, Hosta Krossa Regal, and now some grasses have appeared. It looks great. I make pockets of improved soil when I plant, that helps a lot, especially with the vinca.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 11:21AM
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sage_lover(z6 OH)

aspringer, any chance you could post a picture of this? Sounds pretty nice.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 6:39PM
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