The Q&A Archives: Growing Tips For Slope

Question: My husband and I bought our house here in NH in November. We noticed that the grass was dead. It slopes down to the road. The house faces the east. We have been told by the neighbors that the house sits on ledge and that grass will not grow there because the soil gets very hot and dry in the in the summer. Can you suggest any ground cover for this problem?

Answer: Here are several considerations to keep in mind. Any healthy groundcover will naturally spread so you need to be prepared to contain it if necessary. After all, if it didn't spread well it wouldn't be an effective groundcover. Groundcovers need to have a well prepared planting area and regular watering and fertilizing until they are well established; this can take several years depending on the growing conditions and the plants involved. Your selection is going to depend somewhat on the soil type and microclimate as well. If you know your soil is hard and dry, amend it with organic matter prior to planting. Having said that, there are the old standby plants: ivy (Hedera helix) for almost anywhere, creeping myrtle or vinca minor for part shade to shade, and pachysandra for part shade to shade. These are all evergreen but only the vinca blooms in a noticeable way. For a sunny location creeping junipers (nonblooming) are very popular, as are the flowering creeping phlox and creeping thyme.

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