Hillside Ground Covers
Can you recommend some ground covers for a sun-drenched slope? —Dave White, O'Fallon, Missouri
Melinda: Creeping junipers, 'Gro-Low' fragrant sumac and snowberry (Symphoicarpos) are short shrubs often used for this purpose. Native grasses and prairie plants can create a beautiful hillside while controlling erosion. Little bluestem and prairie dropseed are a few of the lower-growing prairie grasses to consider.
Among more traditional ground covers, barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragaroides), wineleaf cinquefoil (Potentilla tridentata), bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), sedums and creeping phlox tolerate full sun.
Site preparation is critical for any ground cover. If the soil is in good shape, consider killing off existing vegetation and leaving it in place to stabilize the bank and serve as a mulch. Then plant through this layer of dead material.
Adding another layer of shredded bark or other organic material after planting helps to conserve moisture and further reduce weed problems as your ground cover becomes established.