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

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Sunday - April 04, 2010

From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Groundcovers
Title: Ground cover for a slope in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in New York State about 60 miles north of NYC. I have a very wide hill in the front of my house that I am just unable to keep up with. I can mow the bottom portion but using a weed trimmer for the rest is very time consuming and difficult. Can you suggest ground cover plants that will fill in the area with minimal maintenance? The hill receives quite a bit of morning sun.

ANSWER:

You don't mention how large the area is, the type of setting (suburban or rural) or what your definition of "minimal" is with regards to maintenance. There is no such thing as a maintenance free garden ... although in many cases, the level of maintenance demand is defined by the homeowner's taste (formal or more "wild" garden preferences).

You will definitely have fewer maintenance requirements if you choose shrubs, large ornamental grasses and agressive perennials that spread by underground runners.

Your plant choices will be limited by what plants are available in the nurseries in your area but you can start a wish list by visiting our Native Plant database. By performing a Combination Search on that page for New York, dry conditions (that is generally the case on a slope) and part sun you can generate plant lists of each plant type.  The plants on the lists are linked to detailed information pages with images.

Here are some plants selected from those lists that should work for you.

Perennials (Herb)

Anaphalis margaritacea (western pearly everlasting)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower)

 Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca (narrowleaf evening-primrose)

Tradescantia ohiensis (bluejacket)

Grasses

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens) 

Shrubs

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Comptonia peregrina (sweet fern)

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac)

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)


Anaphalis margaritacea

Coreopsis lanceolata

Echinacea purpurea

Monarda fistulosa

Oenothera fruticosa ssp. glauca

Tradescantia ohiensis

Bouteloua curtipendula

Panicum virgatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tridens flavus

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Comptonia peregrina

Rhus aromatica

Rosa carolina
3

Vaccinium angustifolium

 

 

 

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