Suggestions for steep hill

Canton, OH

We have moved into a house with a steep hill running the entire side of the property. This thing is a serious grade and takes a he-man to mow it!! I am looking at replacing the grass with something else over the next few years and making it into a little garden....okay, a big garden! But I have a few questions before I settle on what to do with it...

1. If I landscape it with plants and flowers then spread mulch, will the mulch just wash into the yard when it rains?

2. If I decide, instead, on a groundcover, how can I keep it from invading the neighbor's yard at the top of the hill?

3. Since it is in full sun, would to be possible to plant groundcover roses and let them spread? Would they choke out the grass or are they too thin?

4. What would some of you guys do if it was your hill?

Thank you for any ideas you might have. If you need a photo, I'll be happy to take one for you.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

Sounds very interesting- please show us a photo. I have recently moved here and I am amazed at the beautiful landscaping on steep hilly yards and roadsides. One commercial site even has full grown trees and shrubs dotting an extremely steep area. I don't know how the trees don't fall over-the wind blows here constantly!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

A photo would help, some of your questions like mulch sliding down it really depends on how steep it is and that's hard to judge without a picture. If you want to see some options, I had steep hills in both my front and back yards, in the back I ended up having retaining walls built to make terraces, but in the front I left the hills alone and planted them. If you want to see pictures, click on my username and then follow the link to my blog, you'll be able to look at before, during, and after pictures. (by the way, my mulch stays in place just fine unless I'm crawling around on the hill weeding, then I'll sometimes push some down the hill by walking on it. But I only get about 15" of rain per year, so since you have lots more rain than I do your experience may differ)

If you decide to plant a groundcover, I'd be considerate of the neighbors and not plant something that's horribly invasive, anything that's better behaved if you put some landscape edging down along the property line and come along and trim the edges every so often it ought to be fine.

As far as the groundcover roses--I think if you plant them close together to not allow room for weeds to come up in between, you're going to be limiting your own access to the hill, unless you enjoy pricking yourself with rose thorns right & left! No matter how good the groundcover, a few weeds are still going to make it through, plus there'll be some maintenance pruning needed from time to time, so personally I'd go with a plant that gives you a little easer access. Nothing wrong with planting a few roses somewhere on the hill, but I wouldn't do the whole hill with them if it were my garden.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

I been doing a lot of looking around the internet on this subject because I have two very steep hills. For your climate, you could use creeping thyme--it's too hot for it down here :-( Highcountry Gardens offers several types of creeping thyme. For me, I plan to start with side oats gramma grass because it's very drought tolerant and can handle growing on a very steep hill where water will be an issue. After I get that established I'm going to start adding various wildflowers such as black eyed Susan, purple coneflower, butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) and others with long tap roots than can live in such a hostile environment. BTW, my two hills are steep enough that, for parts of them, I have to crawl around on them, there's NO standing up!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Creeping thyme does fine with heat, I wonder if it's humidity or poor drainage that gives it a hard time in your area?

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

My mistake! I caught it after I hit send and didn't bother to edit. You are right ecrane--it's our humidity that's so hard on it. Thanks for pointing it out.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

This is a thread that has the same subject and we have been giving and getting a lot of advice, check it out and then write your questions here. Having a variety of slopes and sun I have lot's of techniques and am looking for one for the real problem which you will see as you read through this one.

We have hot humid summers and very cold winters so all of my plants have to hold up to extremes.

Pictures would help.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

Here is the big challenge I have to figure out.

Thumbnail by zenpotter
Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

That looks about like my slope! It's not going to be easy to do. But I can make mine very informal since they run along one side and the back of my yard (they aren't actually in the yard, thank goodness). I also have the very hot, humid summers but, thankfully, not the real cold winters. The humidity factor knocks out a few otherwise real good ground cover choices :-( I will have to review your other post.

Asheville, NC

To ercane3 and others who post that readers should go to their blog: I would like to see your blog that shows your steep hillside before and after. But when I follow your link, I find that you have 4 journals and a bunch of other links. There is no way to know which journal you are referring to without browsing them all and I don't have the time for that. This happens a lot, not just with you! I would rather have a way to identify which blog or journal or diary you really mean. I am not trying to be mean, just asking for more clarity. Thanks for the info you provide on many of the threads.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

You need to go to the blog/diary not the journal, the journal will be useless for this since all it has is a list of my plants. In my blog, it's not really all that hard, there's a tab called front yard north hill and front yard south hill so I didn't figure any further explanation was necessary. The only part that's not obvious is that my backyard used to be a hill as well and now is terraced.

Dighton, MA(Zone 6a)

I am in the same boat as you are Rev. you can view my thread with pictures of my weedy slope that I am seeking advise on(HELP in the beginning landscape forum). But I do list a bunch of plants and shrubs that seem to be doing very very well in full sun (and don't mind weeds :) just make sure they work in yours.

But I think I am going to take the advice of my wise new dave's garden friends and mulch it until the ground cover grows in! I like the idea of thyme better than ivy it grows well in my area. But I am afraid it will be brittle in the beginning of the spring and look funny... will it?

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