Garden design and maintenance

Planning hillside planting: which ground cover are suitable?

Hillside planting example-modern-mulch-bark-mulch-ornamental grass-example

Planting hanging beds attractively and easily is not easy. Garden owners face a lot of problems such as soil slipping or too dry. That is why it is important to permanently green the slope area. Plants form strong roots that prevent erosion and hold the soil in place. In the following, you will find out which plants are best suited for hillside planting and what else you have to pay attention to.

Tips and ideas for planting slopes

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Should I only use one type of plant for hillside planting or a mixture of different plants would be better?

Planting just one type of plant on the hillside is not a good idea. Your attempt to create a consistent look could then result in highlighting dead plants, bald spots, or weeds. Green the embankment with a mixture of several types of plants such as trees, shrubs, perennials and ground cover. If you only want to opt for carpet-forming plants, then choose a mix of ground covers that bloom at different times.

Which types of plants are good for hillside planting??

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Ground covers are the best choice when it comes to hillside planting. They grow quickly and make a beautiful carpet of flowers. Plants that develop multiple shoots from one stem also do well. Deeply rooted plants such as meadow flowers hold on wonderfully even on the steepest slope. Ornamental grasses, groundcover roses, and shrubs (including shrub roses with an expanded habit) work well as hillside plants. Native plants are almost always excellent choices.

Can I plant wildflowers on the hillside?

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Wildflowers turn a slope into a real eye-catcher and are easy to care for. Wildflower meadows must be mowed at least once a year after self-sowing. Weeding is vital for the first or two years until the flowers establish themselves. In other words, wildflowers work best when a slope isn’t that steep and easy access isn’t prevented. When sowing wildflowers from seeds, get a high quality seed mix that contains fewer weed seeds.

Suitable meadow flowers on poor soils in dry locations: Colorful vetch, thyme, sorrel, Carthusian carnation, cypress wolf milk, real bedstraw.

Are there any plants that I should avoid?

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Many plants that are typically recommended for hillside planting can easily become too invasive. Get advice from the garden center to ensure that this plant variety meets your requirements and that you do not endanger your home through soil erosion, for example. Plants that could be problematic due to their invasive potential include: vetch, Japanese barberry, broom, and the three-pronged virgin vine. Plants such as ivy, liriope, Vinca Minor and Ajuga, on the other hand, are very suitable for slopes, but can penetrate into nearby lawns. Keep these plants in check with a matching stone or metal border.

Also avoid plants with shallow roots on the slope. The risk of a landslide is too great.

The role of mulch

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Mulching is an easy solution when you want to do something good for your garden. The mulch suppresses weeds, protects plant roots and the soil like a warming blanket from the cold in winter, regulates the soil temperature and stores moisture. The mulch cover also prevents the soil from becoming silted up by precipitation.

Bark mulch is ideal for planting slopes

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Spread a thick layer of mulch on the surface of the soil between the plants on your slope. Do not cover the crown of the plant, but the area where the roots and trunk meet. Avoid light types of mulch, such as straw, which can be blown away in the wind. Mulch made from organic materials such as bark, wood chips, pine needles and compost are ideal for protecting or nourishing the soil. Fallen leaves that are collected in autumn and shredded with a lawnmower are ideal for making mulch for the coming spring. Grass freshly cut with the lawnmower can also be used as mulch material.

Slope planting with grasses


Ornamental grasses offer a variety of design ideas and options for greening an embankment. Here are a few suitable varieties:

Imperata cylindrica var. Koenigii (Japanese blood grass) reaches a height of 30 – 40 cm and shows a bright red summer and autumn color. For smaller gardens it is recommended to use a rhizome barrier. Location: sunny-partially shaded. The blood grass does not tolerate drought.

Festuca cinerea (blue fescue) and Festuca Scoparia (bearskin grass)

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Festuca cinerea (blue fescue) is a good example of easy-care hillside planting. The ornamental grass grows hemispherical, is cushion-forming and hardy. Combined with Festuca Scoparia (bearskin grass), the hanging bed shines in beautiful shades of green.

Bouteloua gracilis (mosquito grass) does best in full sun and provides good erosion control.

The Hakonechloa macra variety (Japan mountain grass) grows to a height of 20 to 60 centimeters and is suitable for sunny to partially shaded locations. The plant also gets along well in the shade.

Types of roses that are suitable for hillside planting


Rosa rugosa (potato rose) spreads with runners and reaches a height of 120-150 cm. Blooms beautifully in early summer and turns golden yellow in autumn. Location: sun to partial shade

Rosa pimpinellifolia (Bibernell rose) is a rose that forms runners. It is well suited for fastening to the ground and prefers sunny locations.

Rosa rugotida (embankment rose) is a low-growing plant species and forms runners with deep roots. It will not be higher than a meter.

Rosa nitida is still known as glossy rose because of its small, shiny leaves. The glossy-leaved rose is approx. 70 cm high and loves sunny locations.

Ground cover, shrubs and perennials for planting on slopes

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Ajuga reptans (Ajuga) – Full sun to partial shade – very easy to care for and hardy. Use some sort of bed border to keep this ground cover off of lawns.

Berberis thunbergii Atropurpurea Nana (Small blood barberry) – Location sun – This dwarf shrub with purple-brown leaves reaches a height of only 30-40 cm and is ideal for rock gardens and slopes. Exceptionally robust and undemanding.

Euonymus fortunei (spindle bush). Low growing evergreen shrub with beautifully colored leaves. Best choice for dry and sunny locations.

Observe the requirements of the plants in relation to the location and soil

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Calluna vulgaris (common heather) – Sun – prefers an acidic, well-drained soil. There are many varieties to choose from for a year-round blaze of color. Generally grow to a height of 10 – 45 cm with a spread of 30 – 90 cm.

Cotoneaster horizontalis (Japanese cotoneaster) – Sun – grows horizontally with spreading branches and forms very dense mats. Mulch under the plant provides the best weed control.

easy-care plants for shady locations

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Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) – the shade – Spreads its deep rhizomes quickly and is very adaptable. The orange-red fruits of the lily of the valley are poisonous.

Erica carnea (snow heather) – Sun – A dwarf shrub with evergreen needle-shaped leaves. One of the most popular winter bloomers, which are often in full bloom for months.

Ground cover for full sun


Hedera helix (ivy) – The shade – Use on slopes for erosion control. Can become invasive. With the edge ridge and ruthlessly cut all the shoots that cross.

Waldstenia ternata (Waldstenie / Dreiblatt golden strawberry) – the shade – evergreen ground cover, which offers bright yellow for shady locations. Blooms in April and May.

The Waldstenie grows in the shade


Hemerocallis fulva (Yellow Day Lily) – Sun – Spreads through thick tuber roots. Excellent choice for erosion control on slopes and embankments. Pest resistant.

Juniperus horizontalis (creeping juniper) – sunny to partially shaded – For greening even steep slopes where other plants cannot thrive. Spread mulch for weed control. Does not tolerate foot traffic.

Ground cover and plants for shady locations


Liriope spicata (lily grape) – Preferred partially shaded to shady locations and acidic soil. Spread by underground runners and can become invasive. Included with an edging strip.

Microbiota decussata (Siberian dwarf arborvitae) – full sun to shady – Soil of pH 5-7. Grows well in the shade. Green pinnate foliage turns bronze in the fall.

Lily cluster for shady locations

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Oenothera speciosa (pink evening primrose) – sunny – Spreads quickly through subterranean runners and dense shallow clumps. Good choice for dry, sunny locations.

Pachysandra terminalis (fat man) – undemanding to the location – Popular evergreen ground cover that provides good coverage for shady slopes. Easy maintenance.

Vinca Minor

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Parthenocissus quinquefolin (virgin vine, wild wine) – sunny to partially shaded, sheltered from the wind. Is considered an invasive forest plant.

Phlox subulata (upholstery phlox) – location in full sun – Slightly acidic soil. This low growing evergreen plant offers beautiful spring color.

Lavender for a Mediterranean flair

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Potentilla fruticosa (finger shrub) – full sun – Low-growing shrub that flowers all summer.

Stephanandra incisa (Low Wreath Spar Crispa) – Sun to partial shade – thanks to the wide, projecting shoots, it grows between 100 and 150 cm and is perfect for large areas.

Symphoricarpos alba (snowberry) – suitable for Sun and full shade – grows densely branched and develops very well even in unfavorable locations.

Example of simple hillside planting

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This property is on a very steep slope, due to which attention was paid to the correct planting in order to guarantee a stable and fixed slope. Climbing plants adorn the wall and green ground cover the slope. Since this steep plot is rather uncomfortable for gardening, plants were chosen that do not require special care and are largely self-sufficient.

Gabions as slope reinforcement

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In addition to the green plants, there are also some blooming plants that were chosen for the steep slope planting. Gabions, among other things, serve as supporting walls and can be nicely decorated with hanging plants. For the flatter areas, rock gardens were created which, in addition to stones, use lawns and shrubs.

Spindle bush and boxwood


If the slope is too steep for you to plant, you also have the option of dividing it into several terraces and thus obtaining flat beds or at least less steep ones. This variant was also used in this outdoor area. Boxwood and the beautiful and easy-care Sindel bush are used for planting on slopes.

Ornamental grasses for very dry soil


Ornamental grasses are particularly popular in modern and minimalist garden design, but can also be used for other garden styles that have a sloping character. Especially southern or western locations, which dry out very quickly, especially in summer, are suitable for the choice of grasses. Incidentally, stones in the slopes can provide additional support. Trees can even be planted on the upper areas of the slope, as here.

Uniform look with three types of ground cover

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The great thing about the ground cover is that it completely covers larger areas in a short time and thus creates a lush garden design. If you cover the ground completely like a carpet, as here, the plants will not only look very attractive during their flowering period. With their leaves, too, they give the garden a fresh and natural look, which you can complement with evergreen shrubs.

Creeper as a ground cover

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In order for the slope planting to look beautiful, the slope does not necessarily have to be completely covered with plants. Above you can see an interesting design with the crawling spindle, which does not grow very high and can either be used as a ground cover or, as here, can be cut into a spherical shape to represent a particularly interesting slope design.

Cotoneaster can tolerate full sun


For the very sunny area, which should be lushly planted despite the heat and drought, the cotoneaster is a great idea. It is important to think about the width so that the ornamental shrub can also be cut regularly and comfortably to keep its neat look. However, since the shrub does not grow too tall, you may well declare cutting unnecessary. A shape cut is still recommended.

Mediterranean hillside planting

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You can see a nice combination of gravel and plants here. The decision as to which color to choose for the decorative gravel is entirely up to you. The small stones can be used to create interesting rock gardens on slopes. However, so that the gravel can stay where it should, the slope must not be too steep. Otherwise, the next heavy rain could ruin all of your work. If you want to make the slope look even more interesting, design different beds with different fillings. One bed can be filled with light stones and another with dark stones. A third bed can contain mulch and another a lawn or simple soil. These areas can also have abstract shapes and, with the right slope planting, make particularly modern gardens very attractive.

Permanently green a steep slope

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So, as you can see, the choice is huge. It is only important that you take the steepness and of course the location with the strength of the sunlight into account when selecting the plants. You are welcome to seek advice in a garden center and even have the respective plants shown to you. If you want to create a beautiful slope, don’t underestimate proper and careful planning.

Pink evening primrose, gold aster, lavender

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Ornamental grasses and perennials

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Lamp cleaner grass autumn magic