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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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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Tuesday - July 03, 2012

From: Carmel, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Trees & Shrubs for a NY Slope
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Our community has a large steep slope (100'high by at least 600' wide) that is sunny & dry. The builders planted "wild flower seeds" on the slope that is now just weeds. We would like to know what shrubs and trees can be planted intermittently on this slope to make it more attractive. The only moisture it will get is from Mother Nature.

ANSWER:

Hmmm….  “Wildflower Seeds”<=>“Just Weeds”  Especially when not blooming, those two bear a strong resemblance to each other!   Nevertheless, you asked about shrubs and trees to make the slope more attractive, and since Mother Nature will be their only moisture, natives are definitely the way to go! 

Mr Smarty Plants recommendations often come out of the recommended species lists.  This one is for New York.   At this point one could limit the search to “shrubs” then “trees”  successively, but I choose instead to simply choose  “full sun” combined with heights “6-12”, “12-36” and “36-72” feet high.  This still left me with 20 candidates for you. The list following are ones I consider some of the better choices, roughly sorted by height. You still need to consider colors and configuration for the best effect.

Rosa palustris (Swamp rose)     6-8 ft.
Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)  6-20 ft.
Asimina triloba (Pawpaw)          10-40 ft.
Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry) 20-30 ft.
Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry)   20-25 ft.
Ilex opaca (American holly)       25-60 ft.
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar)  30-40 ft.
Acer rubrum (Red maple)          40-60 ft.

As additional information that may help you choose plants to design your plantings, Mr Smarty Plants has had a few questions from your general area that might be useful to consider.  This question answer pair considers Trees for privacy, while this one discusses Deer Resistant Species.  Finally, for local information it is always a good idea to also consult with the local Extension Office.  This link is to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County.

 

From the Image Gallery


Swamp rose
Rosa palustris

Swamp rose
Rosa palustris

Canadian serviceberry
Amelanchier canadensis

Pawpaw
Asimina triloba

Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Nannyberry
Viburnum lentago

American holly
Ilex opaca

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Red maple
Acer rubrum

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