With the existence of steep lawns comes the problem of how to maintain them, but selecting an appropriate ground cover is an essential step to solving this issue. A steep lawn can be problematic for a number of reasons, chief among which is the tendency towards erosion in heavy rains and inclement weather. Where steep lawns prevent easy maintenance through mowing and trimming, selecting a comprehensive ground cover can be the best solution. A ground cover will form a dense network of low growing foliage across the expanse of lawn with little or no need for ongoing maintenance, eliminating in its wake the worry over erosion or weed growth. Review the following tips and options for selecting the ground cover that is right for your steep lawn.
Since steep lawns are notoriously difficult to maintain, the best type of ground cover will be one that grows quickly, is virtually maintenance free, reaches a height at maturity of three feet or less, tolerates a variety of soil conditions, and grows well in full sunlight or shade conditions. Additionally, selecting a ground cover that is right for the climate conditions is imperative, and for this it can be helpful to consult a local nursery or lawn and garden center, or to access one of the many online resources available to help select the best match for ground cover in your climate.
The steepness of the lawn slope will be the determining factor in the method of planting ground cover. For less steep lawns, beds can be prepared by mixing soil with fertilizer and some lime and planting ground cover in beds. For steeper lawns, it may be necessary to plant ground cover in individual plantings across the area, finishing by covering the new plantings with either mulch or a protective netting to insulate them from pests and elements as they sprout.
Ground covers tend to grow in a vine like pattern and in this way tend to be fairly self maintaining when it comes to edging out weeds. A drip or garden hose can be used, or a lawn sprinkler system, to provide moisture. Watering should be done in the morning to allow time for leaves and root systems to dry out and prevent fungus from growing. Fertilization can be done as needed, and a pest control system should be set up with regular sprayings to control for pests.
There are a wide variety of options in selecting the ground cover to be used. Shrubs, flowering plants, herbaceous plants, and woody plants can all make excellent ground cover. Deciding on the desired height can be a factor, as can choosing whether flowers are desired or not. For large areas, cost can also be a factor, not only for the ground cover but also for maintenance with watering, fertilization, and pest control. Here are several options for excellent ground cover.
Creeping Charlie is a ground cover grows quickly to four feet, prefers moist soil, produces fragrant leaves and flowers, and is considered invasive in shady conditions.
Crownvetch can grow in nearly any soil conditions including clay, reaches a height of three feet, produces lovely flowers, and is very economical in that a single plant can cover six feet of soil after two years' time.
Barrenstrawberry prefers drier soils with sand mixed in, can tolerate any soil pH, grows well in full sunlight, and grows a fruit which resembles a strawberry but is inedible. This ground cover grows in a mat formation and is evergreen.
Fleeceflower is a very aggressive ground cover that grows fast but can turn invasive. It tolerates most soil conditions and can grow in sun or shade to a height of three feet.
Chokeberry is a favorite for planting on steep banks with dry soil conditions. It can also tolerate an acid soil Ph. Chokeberry will grow to a height of two feet and produce lovely foliage, fruits, and flowers.
Sweetfern will tolerate nearly any soil condition and produces fragrant leaves that resemble ferns. Sweetfern grows from underground stems and will reach a height of two feet at maturity.
Snowberry is also excellent for very steep banks with dry soil conditions, and can tolerate any soil pH or conditions. It grows to a height of three feet with small flowers.
Skunkbush Sumac will tolerate any soil condition and is drought resistant with lovely foliage. It grows to six feet.
Whichever type of ground cover you choose, you will love the benefits it provides for maintaining your steep lawn.