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What to plant on hillside

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by John Rivera, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. John Rivera

    John Rivera LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    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?
    John in Greenville NY
  2. jkason

    jkason LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 546

    Dwarf Alberta Spruce. Looks nice, not too tall, grows slow and DEER DON'T EAT IT.

    Grass underneath.
  3. MJS

    MJS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,316

    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.
  4. John Rivera

    John Rivera LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    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.
  5. MJS

    MJS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,316

  6. P.Services

    P.Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,319

    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.
  7. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,171

    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.


  8. BostonBull

    BostonBull LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 520

    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?
  9. Newt*

    Newt* LawnSite Member
    Messages: 182

    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.

    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.

    Liriope muscaria aka lily turf will grow in clumps and would be my preference.

    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.

    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.

    I like BostonBull's idea of creeping junipers, but they will need full sun of 6 hours or more.

    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.

    If you mailorder you can check references here. You can also search by state or plant material.

    You might also find this site helpful. Check your hardiness zone on anything you see that you like as it's from North Carolina.

  10. LarryF

    LarryF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,171

    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.

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