En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Planting shrubs on a rocky slope

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - September 13, 2008

From: Valdez, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Planting shrubs on a rocky slope
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need to plant a rocky slope, facing south and west, to cut down erosion. Other than creating terraces, are there tricks for securing individual shrubs or trees to a slope when planting? What plants to you recommend for zone 4 (near Taos Ski Valley) at 7,500 ft.? I'm assuming the native ones like chamisa, sage brush, Apache plume, but others, too? Thanks! Helga

ANSWER:

Planting on a rocky slope is tricky.  First, you are better off if you use shrubs that have meshed or intertwining roots rather than a tap root.  This type of root system is going to hold on to the soil better on the slope than plants with tap roots.  Mr. Smarty Plants found a forum, "Planting shrubs on a hillside", on GardenWeb with several useful suggestions. These include planting the shrubs in a plastic pot with the bottom removed.  The pot on the upside of the slope won't be visible and the edge of the pot on the downside of the slope will hold the soil and the roots in place until the plant is established.  You can then remove the visible plastic pot.  Another suggestion was to use plastic edging on the downslope side of the planting and fill with soil.  The plastic edging can be removed once the plant is established.  Still a more natural setting could be accomplished by making a small rock wall on the downslope side and filling it with soil.  It could be left in place or removed after the plant is established.

The three plants you mentioned—Atriplex canescens (chamiso), Fallugia paradoxa (Apache plume) and the sagebrushes,  Artemisia frigida (prairie sagewort)Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush), Artemisia tridentata (big sagebrush)—are all good choices.

You might also consider using various grasses.  Grasses are great plants for controlling erosion since they have extensive fibrous root systems.  Here are a few suggestions for grasses:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Here are more small shrubs that would do well on your rocky slope:

Cercocarpus montanus (alderleaf mountain mahogany)

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil)

Ericameria nauseosa ssp. nauseosa var. nauseosa (rubber rabbitbrush)

Gutierrezia sarothrae (broom snakeweed)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Rhus trilobata (skunkbush sumac) and photos and more information

Sphaeralcea coccinea (scarlet globemallow)

 


Atriplex canescens

Fallugia paradoxa

Artemisia frigida

Artemisia ludoviciana

Artemisia tridentata

Achnatherum hymenoides

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua gracilis

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sporobolus airoides

Cercocarpus montanus

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Ericameria nauseosa ssp. nauseosa var. nauseosa

Gutierrezia sarothrae

Mahonia repens

Sphaeralcea coccinea

 



 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Deer resistant plants for area under grand fir (Abies grandis) in Idaho
July 08, 2010 - What can I plant on a slope under Grand Fir trees in North Idaho, zone 4 - anything deer resistant?
view the full question and answer

Male or female Jatropha curcas from Brownsville TX
August 16, 2012 - How do know the sex of a young Jatropha C. plant? how many weeks before you can tell a boy/girl plant ?
view the full question and answer

Shrub or small tree for hedgerow to block view
November 06, 2007 - For property in the Post Oak Savanah area of Eastern Texas, north of Bryan, Texas, I would like to plant a native hedgerow to block the view of a neighboring property. Ideally this would be a shrub t...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for southwest exposure in Tulsa OK
April 24, 2008 - I want to plant something in a bed on the South side of my house with some Western exposure. The space is in a bed that would share space with a Red Tip Photinia (next to the house)& liriope( on the ...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center