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Beginner Gardening: Steep bank planting

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Forum: Beginner GardeningReplies: 14, Views: 65
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May 20, 2014
5:07 PM

Post #9844491

My husband just cut down numerous thornbrush and an old apple tree on a very steep bank that will get full sun facing the south side. It is a well drained with normal soil (7.0 ph). We cannot remove the roots of the thornbrush etc as our shed would going tumbling over. I realize I will have to keep cutting down any new growth that may pop up from these.

I want to plant campanula birch hybrid and Delosperma lavender ice on this bank. My question is will they grow there with the roots from the thornbrush. Also how many plants to buy and how long will it take them to fill in. The bank is about 10 foot wide by 6 foot long on a 90 degree angle. Any help would be greatly welcomed.

Thanks Gracesmom
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 20, 2014
6:39 PM

Post #9844573

The Delosperma is a very good choice. I do not think the Campanula will survive that setting. They are more of a woodland ground cover, preferring much better conditions.

You can try planting the Delosperma 1-2' apart, wherever you can get them into enough soil around the roots of the thornbushes.

I would suggest painting the stumps of the thornbushes with weed killer for woody plants in hopes that they will die out over time. Their roots are holding the hill in place, though, so if they die over time and the ice plant takes over that is good. If the slope is left bare it will erode with every rain.

90 degree angle means this is a vertical slope, like the side of a cliff. You might also want to seed some fast growing grasses, perhaps with some wildflower seed as erosion control until the ice plant takes over.

Another option is to build a retaining wall so the slope will not collapse- is your shed at the top of the cliff?


Lititz, PA
(Zone 6b)

May 22, 2014
10:54 AM

Post #9846127

This particular Campanula would do well in this condition. I have this plant in full baking sun right next to some native shale rock and it does great although it's not as good of a spreader as delosperma.

One note with the delosperma is that I lost all of ours this past winter and I'm in 6b well south of you. I would hate to see you plant that and then in another bad winter, lose it all.

Might I suggest Ajuga or vinca minor or even a variety of lonicera?

May 24, 2014
5:10 PM

Post #9848192

Sequoiadendron are you in shale country as well? I have 10 rocks to every tablespoon of dirt! I understand the very long cold winter we had this past year. I was shocked to see that the knockout roses, astilbe, hostas, japenese ferns etc survived as I had just planted them last spring. I thought for sure they would all die as the temps got around -40 here for quite awhile. Although I had mulched to make everything pretty, I did not mulch for kind of temps.

I'm so sorry Diana, I'm terrible about angles (failed math for years). The bank is not 90 degrees if that means straight up and down. But it is steep. To steep to mow and do much maintaining without constantly sliding down the hill. The shed is at the top with about 2 1/2 feet from the edge.

I'm wondering now if I shouldn't have ordered more Delosperma. I will get some pictures up here as soon as hubby has it completely cleared. We are still trying to get the veggies planted and all the other beds cleaned up and mulched before we go back to clearing. The weather has been so wet this past 10 days its been hard to get much done.

I'm definately planting some ornamental grasses in there as well. Thanks for the advice, keep it coming...I'm in much need of help.
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

May 26, 2014
7:07 PM

Post #9850131

Here is an easy way to figure out what the slope is. If you are interested in building a retaining wall to help hold the soil this is some important info to have.

Thumbnail by Diana_K
Click the image for an enlarged view.


Lititz, PA
(Zone 6b)

May 27, 2014
6:19 AM

Post #9850395

Yeah Gmom, shale country to the max here. I use it to my advantage though and have worked the native rock into borders around many of our beds. I go to construction sites and they usually have piles of it laying around. They don't mind if I take it because they're just going to dig a hole somewhere on site and bury it anyway.

June 20, 2014
6:28 PM

Post #9873246

I am so sorry I haven't posted any progress but we have been very busy 'round here. So far on the bank I've planted yo-yo grass, delosperma, and the campanula. They are planted on the very beginning of the slope. Now that hubby has gotten more cleared and money being what it is...we have been using what is available for free. The old fashion lilies. A friend gave me some yellow ones and there are tons of them (orange) by the roadside and at my mother in-laws old house. I've also purchased 30 or so bulbs of the reblooming lilies and stuck them in there.

I've always seen the old fashioned ones (we used to call them tiger lilies...but they don't have any brown dots on them) planted on banks. So I've decided to give it a try. Time will tell. I've also purchased 2 stargazer lilies to plant on the bank.

At the very base I've put in 2 pink Sweet Vigarosa rose bushes. Also purchased a Wine & Roses Weigela shrub to stick somewhere. Just liked the plant and wanted it.

Wondering if anyone will think the lilies will work...Thanks
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 21, 2014
8:01 PM

Post #9874100

I think they will like the drainage.
Whether they are any good at erosion control is another matter.
However, the more plants of all sorts you can get on the slope the better. Rain, hitting and running off bare dirt/rock is very bad. It the rain hits leaves and branches, then it seeps slowly into the soil rather than running off.


Lititz, PA
(Zone 6b)

June 23, 2014
5:22 AM

Post #9875043

What's yo-yo grass?

June 25, 2014
6:54 PM

Post #9877697

I'm planning on sticking some other things in there around the lilies...something like Veronica ":Whitewater speedwell" and Sedum "Dazzleberry" stonecrop. Also some of the shorter ornamental grasses like silvermound etc.

Yo-Yo grass is called Cerastium Yo Yo. Its just now starting to perk up after being planted and looks like its going to bloom soon.

My husband finally finished cutting down (pulling out) all the stuff on the bank so if it ever stops raining I can get some good pics and post them on here. I realize it is very hard to picture this in your head.

I apologized for my ignorance with all of this. I am rather new to flowers etc veggies is where I have more experience.
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

June 25, 2014
9:56 PM

Post #9877814

Cerastium tomentosum 'Yoyo'
Not a grass at all. Nice ground cover, though.

Good idea to try a little of everything, and whatever grows best get more of that.

The only thing I see when I google Silvermound is an Artemisia. This is another good idea for that area, but I do not see a grass called Silvermound.


Lititz, PA
(Zone 6b)

June 26, 2014
5:20 AM

Post #9877950

Oh sweet, I have some of that too but never heard of that name before. It's very pretty.

June 27, 2014
5:57 PM

Post #9879456

Finally here are some pictures of the bank and the flat area that I want to use. My plans for the flat are a stone pathway with a seating area plus a fire pit. Yes that ugly old tractor wheel will be the fire ring. I plan to bury it half way though.

Diana, there is one picture with the shed in it. As you can see it is a bit steep there. Sorry about calling the yo yo and the silvermound grass. I really thought that was what it was.

I'm going to post several pictures on the plant ID thread one of which is what we call "tiger lilies". That is what I plan on planting at the steepest point on the bank. They are not in bloom yet but almost. But the wonderful people on here should still be able to tell me if they are a true lily or not.

Thank you both for your help.
Gracesmom (Susie)

Thumbnail by Gracesmom   Thumbnail by Gracesmom   Thumbnail by Gracesmom   Thumbnail by Gracesmom   Thumbnail by Gracesmom
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 8, 2014
4:42 PM

Post #9889009

That is a bit scary having the shed so close to the edge like that.
Looks like the steepest parts might be a 1:1 (One to one) slope, or 45 degrees. Not a lot of soils will hold themselves up at that angle.
If the budget permits I would build a retaining wall there. Recycled concrete chunks would work, or a rock wall, properly done, even without mortar would help.

Otherwise, your idea of adding plenty of plants with roots and underground stems that help hold the soil it exactly right. Something that can get by with less water, too, so you do not have to keep watering it after it is established. I would add a lot of mulch, too. Something like a ground bark. Some people call it Gorilla Hair. It is fine, but long strands, so it meshes together and helps hold the soil. Jute netting is another material. Sort of like a jumbo burlap. This allows planting, water can soak in, but water run off is slowed, and the soil is held a bit better.

July 15, 2014
7:13 PM

Post #9894700

There is about 2 feet of ground before the edge where the shed sits. Again there are alot of tree roots holding the bank for now. I have planted several groupings of the "old fashion" lilies along there. I did some research and found that they are really good for erosion control and for steep bank planting. I also just put in another order for this fall for several bushes that will help as well.

Alot of the stumps are still living as I have to cut off new green growth on a regular basis. We have had a tremendous amount of rain here for the last couple of weeks and all the new plants are staying put and there has been no washout of soil (unlike our driveway, I'm sorry to say).

I am also putting several ground cover plants around the lilies and bushes as well. I have also been busy trying to get some mulching done. This whole thing has become quite an undertaking but so far so good, but I'm getting exhausted...

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