Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil
One of the challenges of growing a garden is that you don’t control all the variables. The soil and landscape are two of the biggest factors that can make gardening harder. With the latter, inclines and odd shapes can increase erosion or cause moisture to drain fast. So, if you have that problem, here are the best plants for slopes, hillsides and banks that will grow where most plants won’t.
What Kind of Plants are Good for Slopes, Banks and Hillsides?
The good news is, even if inclines like slopes, hillsides and banks can be problematic to grow on, they’re not impossible.
The key is finding the right plants.
And, there are quite a few of them depending on where you live and the visual appeal you’re looking for. Here are some things to consider.
- Your region – this will dictate what will grow and won’t grow. Plus, because you’re planting them in the ground, they’ll need to be able to get past the winter. As such, choose plants hardy to your zone.
- Visual appeal – it won’t make sense to just grow any plant if you don’t like how it looks or how it pairs with the rest of your garden. So, collect many options and choose from these.
- Deep rooted plants – there are able to hold their own and resist erosion despite the unfavorable landscape. Their deeper foundation makes them a good choice for slopes and hillsides.
- Groundcover – low growing are ideal. Fast growing are great as well. This lets you blanket the space. Of course, choose the color you want and the style of plant you prefer.
- Shrubs and trees – these help add a bit of character. Having all low growing groundcover can get boring and won’t provide enough variety to make that area lovely to look at.
- Grass – some people like using grass. While this works, consider the difficulty of mowing and maintaining it on a slope.
- Drought tolerant plants – slopes and banks will cause water to run downwards. As such, the area won’t hold moisture well.
- Shade plants – this only applies if your sloped area faces away from the sun most of the day or doesn’t get long hours of sunlight exposure.
- Low maintenance plants – sloping areas are a hassle onto themselves. Don’t add fussy or finicky plants that will make your life more difficult.
Best Plants for Slopes, Hillsides and Banks
Spotted Dead Nettle
Spotted dead netter are perennial ground cover that are able to cover areas in your yard where other plants find it hard to grown.
They’re a good choice for slopes as they help fill up that area that don’t hold moisture and don’t get a lot of sunlight. This is especially true if the slope is facing away from where bulk of the sunlight hits your garden.
Because spotted dead netter thrives in full and partial shade, it won’t have any problems with that.
You can likewise choose from a few lovely colors for visual appeal.
As its name suggests, these will crawl and cover the ground quite quickly. They grow to less than a foot high and will create a colorful mat or carpet around an area.
Additionally, they also attract butterflies and other pollinators.
These are hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9 and are non toxic. Thus, you can keep them outdoors without any problems in these regions. And, they don’t pose a threat to kids or pets.
Dwarf forsythia are a more compact version of their bigger siblings the forsythia (see below).
These are lovely shrubs that don’t grow as tall.
And, they are perfect for low hedges and ground cover, especially if you want something unique.
Many gardeners use them for mass planting or to create the foundations of their gardens.
If you have a big garden, these are great for covering the front side of taller plants. For smaller gardens, they can become a focal point.
California Lilacs are beautiful to look at thanks to their blue color. This is another ground cover that is often used as fences, borders or privacy screens because they can get dense.
That said, they grow wider than they get tall.
Additionally, these are drought tolerant and easy to care for. They also prefer well draining soil.
As such they don’t mind getting moisture deprived due to the water running down the slope or bank.
As a bonus, California lilacs help defend your home from fires.
Roses are among the most beautiful flowers around. And, they need to be planted about 2 feet deep into the ground.
This allows them to grow well on slopes as they’re able to keep the position without giving way to the incline.
Of course, there is the added visual appeal of roses that make them stunning for any landscaping.
When it comes to slopes and hillsides, choose groundcover roses and shrub roses. These do really well in areas where the pitch is against you.
That said, most roses need at least 6 hours of sunlight. Although some varieties only need 4 or more daily.
Forsythia feature tons of bright yellow flowers that help brighten up sloping areas.
These deciduous shrubs are very fast growing and low maintenance making them good choices for hillsides and banks.
They can grow up to 10 feet tall but these are the larger species. That said, some are able to grow anywhere from 1 to 2 feet in a given year.
Forsythia do need full sun. But they won’t fuss about partial sun or shade as well.
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Coneflowers are ornamental perennials that are perfect for slopes and banks.
They feature beautiful flowers that come in red, pink, yellow, purple, white and orange colors.
They are likewise attractive to bees and are low maintenance both of which help you as a gardener.
Violets add color to any section of your garden.
And, don’t get fooled by its name. It actually comes in a multitude of colors including blue, purple, red, orange, white, yellow and pink.
Violets or viola are low growing ground cover that are less than 6 inches tall. But, what they lack in height they make up for in color, variety and ability to cover a space.
They are low maintenance and fragrant as well. And will grow in zones 2 through 11.
Creeping juniper are great plants for slopes, hillsides and banks because they are low growing ground cover. Plus, they’re vigorous spreaders.
Thus, they’ll cover the area in your garden where the incline makes it difficult for other plants to survive.
And, they won’t have a problem with the effects of moisture flowing downwards and away from them.
Golden St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is best known for its medicinal uses. You’ve probably seen them being sold as herbal supplements or even canned in bottles like multivitamins.
That said, they are actually very lovely perennials with bright yellow blooms.
These are hardy to zones 3 to 8. And will bloom from June all the way through September.
They do like full sun but wont complain about partial sun or shade.
Rich, well-draining soil is essential to keep them healthy.
If you have had past troubles growing on a bank, hillside or slope, consider English ivy.
They will grow almost anywhere. And, while they are climbing vines, they will do just as well as fast growing ground cover.
These are versatile for higher inclines and hillsides because their ability to climb will allow them to overcome even steeper angles.
English ivy will also choke out any weeds you have there.
Image from Pinterest
In case you want something a with a little more density than ground cover, consider Japanese Spurge.
These are evergreen shrubs although many people use them as ground cover because they will cover a section of space like a carpet. This is thanks to their underground runners.
But, the difference is they’ll give you a thick, dense bush of foliage.
Japanese spurge also grow well in part or full shade. This makes them perfect if your slope happens to be facing opposite the sun for most parts of the day.