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View Full Version : What to plant on hillside


John Rivera
08-21-2008, 02:08 PM
Greeting all.
Ive just brought a house in Greenville NY.On the side there is a graded hill
now currently bare from the equipment that brought in the house(modular).
Id like to plant something inexpensive that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion.Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Some kind of bush and grass but what?
Cheers
John in Greenville NY

jkason
08-21-2008, 05:36 PM
Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Looks nice, not too tall, grows slow and DEER DON'T EAT IT.

Grass underneath.

MJS
08-21-2008, 05:55 PM
Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Looks nice, not too tall, grows slow and DEER DON'T EAT IT.

Grass underneath.

Yes, Alberta Spruces are nice, but yeah - dwarf is the key word - otherwise you'll be unpleasantly surprised in a few years. . .

You might also consider ground cover - some kind of loriope, perhaps.

John Rivera
08-21-2008, 06:33 PM
Jkason,thanks for the quick reply. Ill look into pricing.
MJS I will google loriope...what kind is best for Upstate NY?:drinkup:
You both have been more than kind with your time and expertise.
Again thanks.

MJS
08-21-2008, 11:07 PM
Oh gosh, I feel like an idiot. I didn't catch the spelling error; it's actually spelled "liriope"

Here's a link that may help you out a little bit: http://www.gardeningtipsnideas.com/2008/02/liriope_muscari_is_more_than_a_foliage_plant.html

My apologies.

P.Services
08-21-2008, 11:12 PM
albertas are not cheap at all nor will they hold back much ground. they are more of a specimen plant to me at least. i would go along the lines of carpet junipers.

LarryF
08-22-2008, 10:43 AM
Greeting all.
Ive just brought a house in Greenville NY.On the side there is a graded hill
now currently bare from the equipment that brought in the house(modular).
Id like to plant something inexpensive that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion.Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Some kind of bush and grass but what?
Cheers
John in Greenville NY

There are several towns named Greenville in NY, so I don't know how far north you are. Probably doesn't matter though. Years ago I had an A-frame on Sagandaga Lake. It was waterfront property with very steep, sandy banks and erosion was a problem. I solved it using crown vetch. It's planted with seed and at the time was inexpensive, sank deep roots, and propagated itself quickly. You may not like the appearance of it, but it worked out well for me for the 20+ years I owned the place.

http://www.wildlifeseeds.com/info/crownvetch.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Vetch

BostonBull
08-22-2008, 09:53 PM
Carpet junipers are a nice low growing option.

Do you plan on maintaining, i.e. mowing this area? Or just letting it go? if you aren't going to mow, you could do some Forsythia. Nice deep roots, will grow and "flop" down the hillside, and have nice yellow flowers. Multiple azalea's or Rhododendrons would also work.

Grass does an amazing job of erosion control, if you plan to maintain it?

Newt*
08-23-2008, 02:46 PM
Hi John,

Congratulations on your new home! I grew up in Monticello and we used to drive to Port Jervis so we could stand on a rock and be in 3 states at once.

I used the zip code for Port Jervis to find your hardiness zone, which I got as zone 5. You can check it here with this zip code zone finder.
http://www.gardenweb.com/zones/zip.cgi

I agree with MJS about the Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Even though they are dwarf, they can still grow to 30'. It will just take them longer. Besides, they are a spider mite magnet.

I also like the suggestion of liriope from MJS. You will usually see it listed for part sun (4 to 6 hours) or shade (2 hours or less), but my Liriope muscaria grows in full sun with no problems. You will need to carefully select which species you purchase. Both come in all green or variegated varieties and both are evergreen and tough as nails. You can purchase them bare root for less. They look best if mowed or weed whacked in early March before new growth starts to get rid of tattered leaves. You can do this every spring or every other spring.

Liriope spicata aka creeping lily turf can be invasive as it grows by runners. Note the 'creeping' in the name. It can easily become a maintenance nightmare at it's borders.
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/liriope_spicata.html

Liriope muscaria aka lily turf will grow in clumps and would be my preference.
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/liriope_muscaria.html

If you choose something like Liriope that grows in clumps, you might want to add another groundcover to cover the soil. You don't say if the site is full sun (6 hours or more), but if it is and you choose something like liriope that grows in clumps, you can grow something such as Phlox subulata aka creeping phlox to cover the bare soil. I don't think you will find the Phlox bare root. There are tall versions of Phlox, so purchase by the botanical name. Here's a sample of creeping phlox. You often see clumps of these blooming on slopes in gardens in spring.
http://classygroundcovers.com/item--Phlox-s-Fort-Hill-%7B24-Pots-3-1-2-in-%7D-subulata--708
http://classygroundcovers.com/item--Phlox-s-Red-Wings-%7B24-Pots-3-1-2-in-%7D-subulata--707
http://classygroundcovers.com/item--Phlox-s-Candy-Stripe-%7B24-Pots-3-1-2-in-%7D-subulata--709

Another possibility instead of liriope would be dwarf mondo grass aka Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana'. It grows in clumps and I don't have to mow mine ever. You can also plant bulbs to grow through it. There is another mondo grass that isn't dwarf - Ophiopogon japonicus.
http://classygroundcovers.com/cat--OPHIOPOGON-Mondo-Grass-Monkey-Grass-Kyoto--OPHIOPOGON

I like BostonBull's idea of creeping junipers, but they will need full sun of 6 hours or more.
http://classygroundcovers.com/item--Juniperus-c-Blue-Pacific-%7B24-Pots-3-1-2-in-%7D-conferta-Shore-Juniper--301
http://classygroundcovers.com/item--Juniperus-p-Nana-%7B24-Pots-3-1-2-in-%7D-Dwarf-Japanese-Juniper--306
http://classygroundcovers.com/item--Juniperus-h-Wiltonii-%7B24-Pots-3-1-2-in-%7D-horizontalis-Blue-Rug-Creeping-Juniper--304

With no disrespect to BostonBull, I don't recommend the forsythia for you. With your hardiness zone you'll be looking at 6 months of bare stems. The rhododendrons might not do well in full sun on a slope as they like good drainage, but don't like it dry. Not sure azaleas will be hardy in your zone.

I do NOT recommend any type of ivy aka Hedera or Euonymous. They can easily become a maintenance nightmare, especially when they grow up your trees. Vinca, if it is hardy in your zone, can also become invasive in the environment once it escapes.

With no disrespect to LarryF, I also don't recommend crownvetch. It too can escape into the environment. There is a thread here somewhere where I had this conversation with someone else.

You can use these sites to search and more.
http://classygroundcovers.com/
http://stepables.com/

If you mailorder you can check references here. You can also search by state or plant material.
http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/

You might also find this site helpful. Check your hardiness zone on anything you see that you like as it's from North Carolina.
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/groundcoverindex.html

Newt

LarryF
08-23-2008, 04:39 PM
Id like to plant something inexpensive that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Some kind of bush and grass but what?
Cheers
John in Greenville NY

Just a reminder to Newt that John didn't ask for beauty; rather, he asked for "something inexpensive that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion."

Some of Newt's classy ground-cover suggestions would be in the range of about 4 or more dollars per square foot if planted at their recommended spacing of 8-to-12 inches. Pretty? Yes, but also expensive, in my opinion. Furthermore, if John has unstable soil on that hill, which was the implication, I think he shouldn't want to shy away from a plant that is invasive, deep rooted and fast growing; in fact, that seems to be exactly what he should be looking for. Well, maybe I completely misunderstood what John asked for, but I don't think so.

Newt*
08-23-2008, 05:04 PM
On the side there is a graded hill now currently bare from the equipment that brought in the house(modular).
Id like to plant something inexpensive that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion.Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Some kind of bush and grass but what?
Cheers
John in Greenville NY

Just a reminder to Newt that John didn't ask for beauty; rather, he asked for "something inexpensive that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion."

Some of Newt's classy ground-cover suggestions would be in the range of about 4 or more dollars per square foot if planted at their recommended spacing of 8-to-12 inches. Pretty? Yes, but also expensive, in my opinion. Furthermore, if John has unstable soil on that hill, which was the implication, I think he shouldn't want to shy away from a plant that is invasive, deep rooted and fast growing; in fact, that seems to be exactly what he should be looking for. Well, maybe I completely misunderstood what John asked for, but I don't think so.

Larry, I didn't see anything in John's post that said the soil was unstable. Not sure what something "pretty" has to do with his request as I didn't see that mentioned either, but if I lived in zone 5 (which I used to), I wouldn't want to look at bare stems on a hill next to my house for 6 months of the year. I would also prefer something evergreen. Besides, I think crownvetch is pretty.

As to "invasive, deep rooted and fast growing", I don't recommend plant material that is invasive in the environment and chokes out native vegetation. Plant material can be deep rooted and fast growing without being invasive and damaging to the environment that John and others will have to live with. The least expensive way to go would be with seed for native grasses.

As to budget, shrubs can get expensive too, and then there is the bare ground until they fill in enough to cover the soil. Besides, we don't know how large the area is that needs to be covered. It could be an acre or a couple of hundred square feet. I included the links with the dollar amounts at that site to give John an idea what the cost would be so he could decide for himself. Unless seed is used, it will take at least 3 years for anything else to fill in.

Newt

LarryF
08-23-2008, 07:54 PM
Newt,

To respond to your comment "Larry, I didn't see anything in John's post that said the soil was unstable", John mentioned wanting something "that will help stabilize the hill/soil of the hill and prevent significant erosion". If he wants to stabilize it and prevent erosion, I presume that means he considers it to be unstable. I don't see how what he wrote can be interpreted any other way.

You are right about one thing, I believe. Perhaps John should tell us the dimensions of the hill. If it is an acre, the prices I saw on the URLs you provided for the classy ground cover suggests he might be in for something in the range of $176,000 plus whatever it would cost to have them planted. I stand by what I wrote before, it seems expensive. But even if its only a 10' x 10' hill, the price tag would be in the range of $400, and although I haven't checked the crown-vetch seed prices in a a few decades, I would guess he can buy a lot of seed for that amount.

I sort of feel the same way about various evergreens.... nice but expensive, and I thought John stressed the point that whatever is to be planted should be inexpensive.

I also agree with what appears to be your objection to Forsythia and its bare stalks for much of the year. I have a lot of it on my own property thanks to the previous owner. Mine hasn't spread much at all in the last 24 years, so it doesn't seem to be especially well suited for erosion control. I don't dislike it, but I'm not too fond of it either. I wouldn't spend a penny to put it in, but since it's already there, I let it be. Other than the fact that its yellow leaves are a harbinger of spring, I have no idea why it's so popular.

And, of course, I agree with you that grass seed would be best, but although he hasn't mentioned why, I presume by the request he made that he has some reason for not going that route. Perhaps he believes the hill would be too steep to mow. Maybe John will come back and fill us in with some of these things he neglected to mention.

By the way, that crown vetch I planted on the bank at Sacandaga Lake never really invaded the lawn I also had there for those 20+ years. A few strands would occasionally show up in the lawn during early summer near the edge of the bank, but running over them with the lawn mower took care of that for the rest of that summer. But it did spread nicely on the steeply inclined bank which was exactly the intent. In other words, my experience with crown vetch hasn't left me paranoid about it's so-called invasive characteristic. I've read about it often enough, but I wonder if the authors of that drivel have based those statements on personal experience or on what others before them have written. I suspect it's the latter, and those other authors probably didn't know what they were talking about either. I'm skeptical that crown vetch will have nearly as much negative impact on a healthy, weekly-mowed and well-maintained lawn that borders it as crabgrass or clover. And as I said, that opinion is based on personal experience and not on what I read somewhere.

John Rivera
09-26-2008, 11:50 AM
Guys
Thankyou all for the sage advice.I was leaning towards inexpensive and
should have specifically stated this was construction shaved hillside which I was worried would be left bare by the park owner.I just got in touch with the landscaper assigned to new construction for the park and they state that they will grade/level and grass the entire area.They also offered decorative landscaping(at extra cost to me) but I want to take it a step at a time and see what the gentlemen does to the property first.
Then have my social director look over the land and see what she'd like to put down for decoration and finally;see what the landowner will do about the hillside.I will hold onto all of your suggestions.
I guess landscaping is like electronics in that the same design can be rendered from several possible components in a number of circuits that all basically do the same job. Carefull circuit and component selection and test (aka practical experience with that zone/situation in landscaping) to do the job right and delight the client while hopefully meeting his price target.
You guys rock. Thanks so much for the advise and great/unique website that doesnt treat newbies like dirt (no pun intended).And you guys even use good manners in debating each other!!! Cool!!!:clapping: