Asked on Mar 13, 2015

Landscaping for steep slope

Pete Hester
by Pete Hester
Our yard has a very steep slope along one side of the driveway and down to the street below. My husband has to use the weedeater to cut the grass because it is dangerous to mow with mower. Need ideas on how to landscape so he won't have to do this anymore.
  13 answers
  • Bonny McDaniel Bonny McDaniel on Mar 13, 2015
    Does Periwinkle (vinca major) grow in your climate? It likes sun or some shade and has pretty periwinkle blue flowers in the spring. I suggest the varigated leaf variety as it resists mildew much better. It grows a thick cover and chokes out weeds.
  • Kristen Rikli Kristen Rikli on Mar 13, 2015
    I have a large bank the length of my house. What I will be doing soon is covering it with cardboard, and placing mulch on top of the cardboard. I've read this will kill off the seeds of the weeds and grasses that grow on the bank. Keeping it wet will help to settle things in and prevent the mulch from sliding down the slope. I've seen it work for other people so it's definitely worth doing if yours is as much an eyesore as mine is, not to mention a pain to keep trimmed. You can leave it with just the mulch if you'd like, otherwise look into groundcovers that grow well in your zone, and for the amount of light that they will receive. Shrubs and oriental grasses would look nice and would fill in a little too. You could plant a few of those at first. I think I read it will take about 3 months to smoother weed seeds and grasses with the cardboard. It takes 2 years for the cardboard to breakdown. I plan to plant a few things this year that will look nice. If I decide that I want to invest the time and money later, into groundcover, I'll do it at that time. At least with the cardboard and the mulch there, that will look nice until You could add some shrubs, oriental grasses, etc. You could leave it just like that if you like how it looks. Also, I plan to use some long, thin, metal garden steaks to help keep the cardboard in place. You could probably get large cardboard boxes from local grocery stores, etc. Good luck.
  • Jean M Jean M on Mar 13, 2015
    go wit what Kristen said in post above and dependire you live, get several colors of ground covering and set irratically make is look as though it is natural
  • Pete Hester Pete Hester on Mar 14, 2015
    Thanks Kristen. We had thought about getting rid of all grass and putting down some kind of rock or small stones but was afraid they would all wash away with the slope being so steep. The cost of planting ground cover would be pretty costly as the slope is as long as our whole lot. But I guess I could plant a few each year to break up the cost.
    • Kristen Rikli Kristen Rikli on Mar 22, 2015
      @Pete Hester That's what I'd do. It's best to pull out, weed whack, or mow whatever dead foliage is there from last season, just so you have cleaner ground to work with. If you see some weeds already growing, spray them with Round-up or another good weed killer. Cardboard is nice and thick, unlike the plastic weed barriers that crabgrass seems to pop right through. The sooner you get the cardboard down, and mulch it, the better, as weeds will start growing pretty quick. I'd wait awhile before planting anything much. If you plant something, you are exposing a brake in the cardboard, and you may find a weed has worked it's way over and through, along with whatever you've planted. For a part shade, or shady area, Hosta and Heuchera would look very nice. Since they grow and multiply quite fast you could divide them to have new plants which would lower the costs. Nettle is a great, quickly spreading groundcover for part shade to shade, but it needs moisture so that it doesn't dry out. I'd wait at least a couple years before adding groundcover, in order to give the cardboard time to brake down. Some people use newspaper in place of cardboard. If you do, you need to have the newspaper 15 pages thick. It tares easily so cardboard really is your best bet for toughness. My bank/slope gets mostly full sun so I'll plant the Heuchera that can tolerate sun, some grasses, Daisies, daylilies, and sedum, as time goes on. All of those plants spread quite nicely too. If you can get your cardboard down pretty quickly, you could start planting a few things at the end of June. I'd love to see photos of whatever you end up with. You can post them here.
  • Irene Irene on Mar 14, 2015
    I have used oregano plants. There are several varieties but this one grows close to the ground and spreads out. It is hardy, requires no maintence, looks lush and green, smells wonderful and you have a life time supply of oregano. My area is very sunny. I watered regularly the first season, however, this was once a week or so depending on rainfall. Now, a few years later, I never water. I let nature take care of that. You can devide these plants after a year to so if you want to move some to another area or give some away. I have good soil but was told they thrive in poor soil also with a little fertilizer during the first year. One plant grew to cover about 3 sq. feet And about 6 inches high. Also does not require a lot of weeding. I put down a pre emergent in early spring and again in late spring and that was it! Good luck!
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Mar 14, 2015
    Irises are great for slopes. They are drought tolerant, spread nicely. You may want to post on freecycle, craigslist,, or at garden centers. A lot of people will give away extra irises when they thin them.
    • Kristen Rikli Kristen Rikli on Mar 22, 2015
      @Connie Mar Thanks for including the tip on freecycle. I never knew that existed.
  • Irish53 Irish53 on Mar 14, 2015
    you can just terrace a vine plant to replace the grass. Any one that needs only to be feed and watered along with the grass should be fine, If you make shallow terraces it will slow the run off when you water.
  • Ilona Elliott Ilona Elliott on Mar 14, 2015
    A slope in AZ would probably be very very dry and difficult to keep much growing on. I would use plastic sheeting to solarize the slope and kill the grass,,,and weed seeds, which should take only a few weeks in a hot sunny climate. Use a pic axe to tear up the dead grass if you want. Then use large rocks to make terraced planting areas for drought resistant plants like yucca or cactus--look up xeriscaping online for help--or better yet get a few books from your local library on it. Drip irrigation would be really convenient for that slope also. Good luck. That sounds like a challenge but look around your area for similar landscapes and I'll bet you will come up with something that works!
  • Randy Smith Randy Smith on Mar 14, 2015
    Contact your local nursery or master Gardner club and check out what types of ground cover does well in your climate. You can hard scape with gravel or rock large enough not to wash away in rainy weather, and interplanetary with a ground over that has a vigorous root system to hold the soils in place.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Mar 15, 2015
    Think I'd get some boulders set them in well, and put in drought-resistant plants. My aunt in CA had what she called "ice plant" that grew well in very dry conditions and spread well.
  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Mar 15, 2015
    Take a look at sedums. They are very drought tolerant, at least I can't kill them and I hate to water. They spread well and can grow out side of the space where people intend them to stay. I have gotten most of mine for free by asking for "starts" when I see them in someone's flower beds. There is a big variety in height and color of leaves and flowers. An add on Craig's list might get you some to start with. OR it might get you more than you can use.
    • Kristen Rikli Kristen Rikli on Mar 22, 2015
      @Lindcurt I like her idea with the sedum. Succulents would work great and look great. There are quite a few varieties. It is also a great idea, if you see a plant that you like at someone's home. Tell the homeowners that you really admire it, ask what it is called, and tell them that you are wondering that because you'd really like to get some for your home. There's a great chance that it may need dividing and they'll offer to give you some. I got some beautiful plants this way, and I wasn't trying to. The homeowner offered to dig some for me and had me come back to pick them up a few days later. It was wonderful. We're all happy to share the excess that we don't need, and feel great about sharing with someone who is very happy to get them.
  • Jacki Nino Jacki Nino on Mar 21, 2015
    I would use some large rock's to break up the slope and plant flower along the rock's
  • Kristen Rikli Kristen Rikli on Mar 22, 2015
    I like the idea of rocks too, but my slope is so steep that I have existing rocks come off it, as the rain washes away the soil around them. It would be great if they would stay.