Groundcovers recommended for hill-holding.

These are toughies! They must bind soil both on the surface and as deeply as possible. In addition they must tolerate the dry conditions of their rapidly draining site.

WARNING: Because effective erosion-control plants are necessarily aggressive, some of them, under good growing conditions, can become seriously invasive. Examples of these are dwarf Japanese fleece-flower, artemisia 'Silver King,' Hall's Japanese honeysuckle and matrimony-vine. Glyphosate (Roundup) can come to your rescue if things get out of hand.

  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). This native trailing evergreen thrives here, growing 6 to 12 inches high. While it prefers acid soil, it adapts to sandy beaches or rocky hillside conditions sun or shade, coastal or inland climate. The leaves are small and leathery; little white flowers are followed by bright red berries. Potted plants transplant most easily.
  • Creeping, Dwarf or Prostrate Rosemary may vary slightly depending on the supplier. The true plant is Rosemarinus officinalis 'Prostratus.' It grows one to two feet high and four to eight feet wide. It is an evergreen shrub with narrow aromatic leaves and small clusters of light blue flowers in spring. Give them sun, poor soil, good drainage. Space them three to five feet apart. When pruning, always leave some leaves on a stem to continue growth.
  • English Ivy. Snail heaven and it may take over the neighborhood. Allowed to climb into a tree, this vine will smother it, resulting in the tree's death. Has roots along the stem that cling to masonry and tree bark. Self-branching types are especially good as groundcovers. It will grow in sun where summers are cool; elsewhere the plant prefers shady conditions. Start from plants or rooted cuttings. S-pace a foot or two apart. Keep it mowed to control it. The foliage and berries are poisonous if ingested.
  • Hottentot Fig, actually a Mesembryanthemum, reclassified Carpobrotus edulis, with large dazzling daisy-like yellow flowers. This fast-growing sun-loving Ice Plant is ideal for binding hillsides and dry sandy areas in full sun. They may be started from seed or from tip cuttings which you can set out eighteen inches apart. Do your planting during the rainy season.
  • Hypericum calycinum, also called St Johnswort or Aaronsbeard. This evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub grows twelve to eighteen inches high with leaves four inches long. It has bright yellow flowers, three inches across in summer. It likes sun or part shade. It will grow in sandy soil and on steep banks--if watered--and spreads by underground runners. Set the plants eighteen inches apart. Tops may winterkill but come back.
  • Mock Strawberry (Duchesnea indica) resembles true strawberries but has less tidy growth, yellow flowers, and inedible fruit.
  • Cotoneaster shrubs are grown for their attractive small leaves and decorative berries. Necklace Cotoneaster (C. decora) has arching branches up to three feet high. Rockspray Cotoneaster (C. horizontalis) is a semi-evergreen with flat horizontal branches sometimes three feet high.
  • Juniper, a narrow-leafed evergreen in many sizes and growth habits. The plants grow rapidly, are relatively inexpensive, very rough and durable. They like full sun, tolerate poor soil, and when established can withstand drought. Contact your local nursery person for advice and availability.
  • Wild Strawberry. Several types that have relatively small 3-parted semi-evergreen leaves, white flowers and delicious fruits. They cover ground rapidly by putting out runner plants and like sun or part shade. Space them one or two feet apart.