University of California research shows that ground covers work well for garden or yard designs on moderate slopes.
Ground covers are substitutes for lawn grass that grow rapidly and work well to prevent erosion. The low-growing plants are a good choice for slopes because they spread quickly, grab the soil and form a solid cover.
Ground covers are considered plants that grow less than 18 inches tall and spread either through rhizomes or trailing roots.
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Correct Plants for Ground Covers
Choosing the correct plant materials for a sloped area consists of knowing your site conditions including sun exposure, the amount of water the area receives and type of soil.
The best ground covers for slopes are drought-tolerant, native plants that require minimum care. You don’t want a lawnmower or other equipment on slopes.
Ground Covers Work on Moderate Slopes
You can use ground covers on a sloped landscape under certain conditions. Research from the University of California Davis states, “Moderate slopes (less than 33%) have a good chance of success at controlling runoff using plant materials and mulch. But slopes over 50% will require structures or special techniques for stabilization.”
The ground cover known as the African or freeway daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum) gets its name because it thrives in California around freeways. That location means it receives minimum care and rain water.
This tough, hardy plant will cling to the soil and spreads easily by trailing rooting systems. It mounds or trails and is a prolific bloomer with daisy-like flowers.
It blooms in colors that include white, yellow, rose and lavender. It grows in all USDA Hardiness Zones as an annual; in zones 9 through 11 as a perennial.
Another good choice for a groundcover on a slope is poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrate). This drought-tolerant plant thrives on slopes, spreads quickly (some gardeners report it becomes invasive) and is low-maintenance.
A brilliant pop of color will spread through your garden from late spring through early fall; poppy mallow blooms in colors that range from purple to rose to wine. It grows up to 1 foot tall and as wide with one plant. It thrives in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 3a to 9b.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) will hold its own as a ground cover on your slope. It blooms freely and almost continuously from spring through fall. Gardeners bring it indoors for cut or dried flowers and as filler in bouquets.
Blooms appear in colors that include cream, yellow, pink and rose and leaves are gray or green. This drought-tolerant, low-maintenance ground cover spreads through rhizomes, so keep an eye on it so it doesn’t become invasive. Yarrow thrives in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 9.