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Sunday - March 28, 2010

From: St Paul, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Plants for eroding hillside around garage in St. Paul MN
Answered by: Janice Kvale and Barbara Medford


We live in St Paul, Minnesota. Our garage was built into a shaded hole close to the bottom of a small hill. We need to find plants that can retain soil around the garage but will not have root system eroding into the garage walls or the roof top. Could you please recommend some plants? Thanks in advance!


From your description, we are getting a picture of a garage built into the hillside so that an aggressive plant would invade the walls or the roof. In addition the topography appears such that the soil may erode away from the garage. If this is an inaccurate picture, you will need to redirect Mr. Smarty Plants. For now, let's look at well behaved, native ground cover type plants and grasses that may be suitable. For variety, you might make this a meadow garden. See our How-To Article on Meadow Gardening for more ideas.

Our first recommendation for hillsides or erosion is always native grasses. With their fibrous root systems, they will grab the soil and hold on, but are not invasive or damaging to structures. We will go to our Native Plant Database, and use the COMBINATION SEARCH function, selecting Minnesota, then "grasses or grass-like plants" under Habit or General Appearance, and "part shade" (2 to 6 hours of sun a day" and "shade" (less than 2 hours of sun) under Light Requirements. In case you want some variety in your landscaping of the area, we will search again using "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants) and "shrubs" under Habit. The low amount of sun will be a limiting factor in finding suitable plants, but we will try to find enough to give you some choices. You can use the same search process to make your own selections. We want to emphasize that these grasses are not lawn-type grasses, to be mowed, but prairie grasses. Some are perennial, some are self-seeding annuals; all can be planted by seeds or plugs. We have checked the USDA Plant Profile on each plant to ensure that it is native to the Ramsey County area and can be successfully grown there. Follow each plant link to our page on that plant to get more information.

Shade Tolerant Grasses and Grass-like Plants for St. Paul:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Muhlenbergia glomerata (spiked muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Shade Tolerant Herbaceous Blooming Plants for St. Paul: 

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Erigeron philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane)

Shade Tolerant Shrubs for St. Paul: 

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle)

Galium proliferum (limestone bedstraw)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Andropogon gerardii

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua hirsuta

Carex blanda

Calamagrostis canadensis

Elymus canadensis

Muhlenbergia glomerata

Schizachyrium scoparium

Achillea millefolium

Aquilegia canadensis

Asclepias tuberosa

Erigeron philadelphicus

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Diervilla lonicera

Gaultheria procumbens

Physocarpus opulifolius








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