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Plants for Designing Anti-erosion Gardens on Shaded Slopes in USDA Zone 4  

Hemerocallis image from http://www.thegoodstuffguide.com/daylily-love/

A reader once contacted me for advice about landscaping a bare slope that received little sun. Her concern was that the slope would erode eventually because whatever she had planted on it would get washed away whenever it rained. I sent her a list of plants that might prove helpful in solving the problem and have posted their images throughout this blog.

Achillea image from http://www.laspilitas.com/garden/California_natives_for_part_shade.html

Bare slopes may be eroded by heavy rain if the wrong plants are selected. When landscaping surfaces such as these, it’s a good idea to choose plants that have proven effective in erosion control.

Image of Hosta from http://gardening.resourcesforattorneys.com/index.php?entry=entry071223-200753

Planting Hosta would be one good choice. Its arching foliage acts as an umbrella to shelter the earth thereby preventing the pounding rain from breaking up surface soil and sending it streaming downhill.

Image of one of several large leaf Hosta from http://www.longfield-gardens.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=350

Some of the larger varieties of Hosta have an enormous foliage spread that makes them very desirably for such projects.

Image of ferns from http://www.rockspringfarm.com/ferns.html

Another shaded - slope anti-erosion solution is to use perennials and shrubs that, just like Hosta, have thick fleshy roots that grip the soil during rainstorms in order to remain stationary.

Chelone image from http://purduelabash.com/gallery/index.php/Group-Eight/Scrophulariaceae/Chelone/obliqua/chelone-20obliqua_1

Several useful and attractive plants that grow in shade or part shade are available to help prevent erosion.

Ornamnetal grass Pennisetum image from http://www.bluestem.ca/pennisetum-hameln.htm

When combined together, they create beautiful compositions because of the interplay between the surface interest of their foliage and the variations in color, shape, and tone of their leaves.

Image of Lamium from http://www.youcanlearnseries.com/Landscape/Plants/Lamium.aspx

Some of these plants, like Hosta and Lamium, are naturally variegated.

Image of Geranium macrorrhizum variegatum from http://www.robsplants.com/plants/GeranMacro

Others, like Geranium macrorrhism and Pachysandra are available with two choices of foliage. One is solid green and the other is variegated.

Pachysandra variegata image from http://www.nzplantpics.com/cat_ground_cover.htm

For an infusion of rich eye - candy in the garden, consider using the variegated varieties whenever possible.

Image of Ornamental grass Carex from http://www.mauways.co.nz/product_info.php?products_id=182&osCsid=ifvnmuqkimc70n1aa7taf9svo6

Variegation raises the bar for composition by providing a rich and effective contrast to the solid green foliage of other plants.

Heuchera Bressingham http://vivacesmerlebleu.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=u&kgi9aok36jgu25ctvisl78ag4=&page=4&sort=2a

The Heuchera family has an even more extensive selection of foliage.

Heuchera Hercules http://www.connon.ca/list5.php?genus=HEUCHERA&category=PERENNIALS Some varieties have solid green leaves while others are mottled green, combined with white or another color.

Heuchera Peach Crisp http:// picketfencegreenhouse.dianemumm.com

There is also a large selection of Heuchera with colored foliage in shades that range into many tones of wine, peach, purple and gold. Shown above is a peach variety called Peach Crisp.

Rhododoendron http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/rhododendron?cx=partner-pub-0939450753529744%3Av0qd01-tdlq&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&q=rhododendron&sa=Search#922

By combining several different species of plants in a variety of textures, shapes, surface interests, and colors, one can enhance the design of any shade garden composition, be it on a slope or otherwise.

Azaleas http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden/borde_hill_garden

However, it is also true that some of the most spectacular designs have been created when only one or two contrasting plants have been used. Some garden designers, and especially landscape architects, often prefer to use only one species in order to make a dramatic statement. In gardening, as in all other creative endeavors, there are always several ways to execute a design.


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Reader Comments (1)

Great post! Alot of houses here in SoCal have sloped landscaping, and to most homeowners, this can seem challenging. But these are all simple plants to take care of, that I feel even a novice gardener could handle. Keep up the great work!

June 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlandscaping

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