The 12 Best Ground Cover Plants For Slopes

Landscaping for slopes can be very tricky. It might also be tricky for homeowners to mow sloped areas of their yard. That could explain why most of them opt not to add grass to a slope. So the question is: what will be a better option for ground cover?

We’ll be taking a look at twelve different plants that will work perfectly for slopes. You’ll find that these plants will do more good than harm, especially when erosion is a concern.

Plus, we’ll give you a brief explanation of why each plant might be good for slopes (including some extra goodies on how to take proper care for them). 

best ground cover for slopes

Best Plants For Erosion Control On Slopes

As promised, we’ll be providing you with a brief overview of the twelve plants that are superb for ground cover if you have slopes on your property. These will be great for erosion control and possibly some other benefits. 

Let’s dive right in with our first plant: 

Creeping Myrtle (Vinca minor)

Creeping Myrtle (Vinca minor)

A creeping myrtle contains flowers with a mix of a blush-purple and white. The flowers bloom in a star shape that makes your slopes stand out beautifully. It wouldn’t be a shock if someone stopped dead in their tracks just to stare. If you have slopes that are on the steep side, then these are a perfect choice.

Not only are these perfect for controlling erosion, but they can hold their own in regions where drought can be an issue. After all, watering plants on steep slopes is challenging enough. These will require full sun and partial shade in order to survive.

These plants are fast growers and can reach up to a foot in height, maybe even more. These are also the perfect flowers for so many bees to transfer pollen from one flower to the next. If you want to see these bees hard at work, keep a safe distance and watch the magic happen. 

Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)

Creeping Phlox Phlox stolonifera

These colorful flowers are indigenous to many parts of the United States from the Appalachian region to the southern United States. Some have reported seeing these grow in parts of Canada.

The colors are a pale shade of pink and white. However, you’ll see hints of yellow in the stamen of the flower. In the winter, the leaves will go dormant and will have needle-like enclosures.

If you have a slight slope in your yard, these will work just fine. They will need full sun. Other than that, these will look nice if you have slopes in either your front or back yard.

As the creeping phlox ages, they will usually take on a much woody shape. While they are perennials, they do appear every single year after a dormant winter.

And yes, they are needle-like and can be painful if touched. 

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Calycinum)

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Calycinum)

St. John’s Wort is easily distinguishable. They are mostly green with small yellow flowers. The flower stamen is quite bushy and the flowers themselves may change colors.

If they are grown in warmer climates, they will remain evergreen. If you have steep slopes that may be problematic for watering or even mowing, then this will make for excellent ground cover.

That’s because they are drought-tolerant plants that won’t need a lot of water in order to survive. However, they will need full sun and partial shade to ensure that they will produce a full bloom of beautiful flowers.

St. John’s Wort has also been known for being a mood booster and there are plenty of supplements made from these exact same plants. 

Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)

mondo grass lawn

Mondo grass is the perfect type of grass to grow on slopes. Why? Because it’s drought-resistant and it doesn’t need a significant amount of care to survive.

Other than just taking out weeds every now and then, they do great when left alone.

If you want to know how to grow mondo grass, this handy guide on how to get it done should be the next place to go to.

What makes this grass even better is that unlike some of the plants we’ve mentioned so far, Mondo Grass doesn’t need full sun.

It’s the toughest kind of grass that can thrive and survive better than almost any plant that is on this list. If anything, it’s one of the best lines of defense when it comes to erosion. 

Creeping Junipers (Juniperus Horizontalis)

Creeping Junipers (Juniperus Horizontalis)

If you reside in the northern half of the United States and much of Canada, you might know well enough about these plants. And they will work just fine on slopes.

Their foliage will range from green to yellow depending on where you are. Whether they grow in the wild or in your yard, these creeping junipers do a good job of preventing erosion.

They do need plenty of sun and a lot of drainage in order to survive. Though they are grown on steeper slopes, they are proven to handle droughts for a lengthy period of time.

On top of that, creeping junipers are compatible with almost any kind of soil. Even if the soil’s fertility is poor compared to others, the creeping juniper will stand a great chance of survival.

You won’t even need to worry about pruning them a lot (but a slight trim here and there once in a blue moon could suffice). 

Creeping Raspberry (Rubus calycinoides)

If you are looking for a great plant for much drier slopes, chances are the creeping raspberry might be what you’re looking for.

The appearance of creeping raspberries will be about what you expect. There will be raspberry fruits growing on the plant. They will appear in a golden or orange color. It will look like they will eventually turn into a shade of red over time.

If you have plenty of open space above, they will thrive in full sun.

On top of that, since they are usually found on drier slopes, they are a clear choice for anyone looking for drought-resistant plants.

While they are evergreen in some parts of the United States, they will turn into different shades of red to purple in the fall. They will maintain this color throughout the winter months. 

Forsythia (Forsythia)

Forsythia

Forsythia appears with a shade of a soft yellow. And they do an extremely good job at retaining soil and therefore makes perfect sense for it to be planted on slopes.

If you live in an area where you get plenty of rain, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better that will minimize or stop erosion than these.

These will work great as hedges whenever you want to put together the perfect landscape for your home.

These will need at least six to eight hours of full sun.

Thankfully, they don’t need a lot of pruning to look good. So long as they prevent erosion and provide plenty of ground cover, they are best left alone and cared for by nature.

Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium Maculatum)

These will have green leaves along with flowers with a shade of purple or deep pink.

They will thrive best in soil that is rocky but allows for good drainage. Any kind of soil that performs poorly in the drainage department will not be compatible with the Spotted Dead Nettle.

These will grow best in partial shade, but they should get as much full sun as possible (at least six hours per day).

The reason why soil drainage is important is that they could be harmed if the soil tends to stay wet even during the winter months.

If you also have been dealing with a pest problem in the past, these are a great solution to keep them out of your yard.

If you’re the kind of person who finds Brussel sprouts disgusting, the deer and rabbit will feel the same way about spotted dead nettle.

One bite and they won’t even go any further. If they do a good job covering the ground and preventing any kind of erosion, you can propagate them and plant new ones if you need to. 

Border Grass (Liriope muscari)

Border Grass (Liriope Muscari)

Border grass is also known as lilyturf. Regardless of what you call it, these do an excellent job retaining soil and keeping the pests out of your yard.

This green grass has blades that are long in length.

This is the kind of grass that you want to “set and forget”. It doesn’t need any kind of mowing (after all, mowing on a slope is kind of like walking on a tightrope. It’s very difficult to pull off). The only thing you’ll need to do is feed them every spring so they stay healthy and fully grown.

The more well taken care of your border grass is, the better job it will do. If that isn’t a great example of returning the favor, we’re not sure what is. 

Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)

Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra Terminalis)

There’s a matter of debate going on about this green, leafy plant. This is the kind of ground covering that might look like normal shrubbery. This will do just fine in any kind of shade (partial or full shade).

If you have soil that is rich and well-drained, there’s a good chance the Japanese Spurge will survive. Like most of the plants on the list, they are low maintenance and will keep most pests out of your yard. Snails will mostly be the problem you’ll deal with, but other than that nothing else.

In an area where urban pollution is existent, the Japanese Spurge will still hold strong. And they will definitely keep soil erosion to a minimum.

These are also perfect if you need to add a little more green to your garden. 

Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

Interrupted Fern (Osmunda Claytoniana)

This kind of fern will mostly be found in acidic soils. And it can live with plenty of shade (partial or full).

It’s green with showy fronds that stick out a bit longer than most ferns.

If your slopes are mostly shaded rather than getting full sun, these are probably your best ground coverings.

It doesn’t matter how steep the slope is, these will hold a great deal of soil and prevent major erosions. So long as the soil content is good enough, these may not need any care whatsoever.

They can also withstand humidity, making this a great ground cover to plan if you live in an area where summer weather is notoriously humid.

These will be found mostly in the midwestern and northeastern parts of the United States. 

Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)

Rockspray Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Horizontalis)

Lastly, we’ll be taking a look at Rockspray Cotoneaster. This is a coarse-looking plant that grows small red berries on their branches. It’s dense, but slow-growing.

While it’s low lying on slopes, it’s easy to reach when you need to do some pruning. Yes, unlike other plants that we’ve covered, these will require regular pruning to prevent any kind of spreading. It will also need full sun for excellent overall growth. 

This is great for when you need to keep erosion to a minimum (even on slopes that are susceptible to a large amount of it). Thankfully, it’s drought-resistant so you won’t need to water it on a regular basis.

The berries are not edible and are non-toxic if accidentally eaten in small quantities.

However, large quantities consumed may mean a trip to the hospital or the vet (if your dog or cat eats them). 

The Wrap Up

Slopes in your yard can be easily eroded without the best ground cover. One of these twelve might just work best for you. It’s important to consider testing your soil’s PH levels before planting them. That way, you’ll know which plants will work fine in terms of quality and drainability. 

You want the ground cover you choose to survive and remain healthy for most of the year. The goal of course is to make sure that they retain as much soil as possible to prevent erosion. On top of that, they don’t need an awful lot of care other than what nature will provide. 

12 ground cover plants for slopes

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