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Monday - July 14, 2008

From: Inman, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Erosion Control, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Evergreen native plants for slope in South Carolina
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We would like to plant an evergreen garden in our backyard, which is on a slope. It receives the sun from approx 9-4. We have an above ground pool, and patio area. Would also like a recommendation of what to plant alongside our driveway, which gets lots of flooding when it rains.


Sun from 9:00 to 4:00 would come under our classification of "full sun", or 6 or more hours a day of sunlight. If you are wanting an evergreen garden, you need to be mostly talking about shrubs and trees. Few herbaceous perennials, or flowering plants, are going to be evergreen. So, we're going to go to our Recommended Species for South Carolina, and pick out some shrubs to small trees that need full sun and perhaps will also add a little color to your garden. In terms of the slope in your back yard, we are going to suggest some native grasses, whose fibrous roots will help hold soil in place. These, however, are not usually evergreen. Some native grasses hold their place all Winter, and only need trimming back of the dead material when the plant begins to green up in the Spring.

For the area along your driveway, we're not sure we have enough information to make suggested choices. Sun? Shade? Width of space? etc. Most importantly, you need to deal with the possibility of plants standing in water BEFORE you plant. Very few plants can tolerate water on their roots as the result of poor drainage, and the few swamp plants that can very quickly perish when dry weather comes. Not only that, but if the flooding and water flow come along when you have just planted your area, the plants could quite simply be washed out of the ground. And, also on the subject of what to suggest for the driveway area, most tree roots are intolerant of compacted ground and should not be planted near paved areas or foundations. Not knowing how much area you want to cover, we will refer you to the shrubs native to South Carolina we have already mentioned and perhaps some flowering plants, although, again, they will not hold their places in Winter. Since we are not skilled in site planning in terms of slopes and drainage, we found this Old House Web site Site Drainage Issues that covers some of the problems we have mentioned. Again, we urge you to deal with the location and drainage issues before you purchase plants that may not be able to survive in their location.


Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) - 6 to 12', blooms June to September

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern) - 2 to 4' tall, blooms May to August

Gordonia lasianthus (loblolly bay) - 32 to 72', blooms June to November

Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) - 12 to 20' WARNING: All parts poisonous.

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 6 to 12', blooms March and April

Rhododendron catawbiense (Catawba rosebay) - 6 to 20', blooms April to June


Elymus hystrix var. hystrix (eastern bottlebrush grass) - prefers shade, 1 to 3' tall

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - part shade to shade, 2 to 4' tall

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) - 1 to 3' tall


Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) - 1 to 3' tall, blooms April to June

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) - 2 to 5' tall, blooms April to September

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower) - 1 to 6' tall, blooms May to October

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Comptonia peregrina

Gordonia lasianthus

Kalmia latifolia

Morella cerifera

Rhododendron catawbiense

Elymus hystrix var. hystrix

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Lobelia cardinalis







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