The Q&A Archives: Landscaping Slopes

Question: Our front yard has a very steep slope in the front which is hard to maintain. We killed the grass on the slope with herbicide and completely covered the area with 3 inches of mulch. At the top of the slope near the grass line, we planted 22 arborvitae in a line spaced about 6 feet apart. Now we need to fill in the rest of the mulched area below these shrubs. The slope is in direct sunlight all day long and the soil (mostly clay) is well drained. We realize that it's going to take a while to complete the landscaping since it's such a wide expanse but we need to come up with a plan first. Any suggestions?

Answer: Some options are tradional groundcovers, such as low-growing, mat-forming junipers or English ivy (Hedera helix), or a spreading perennial such as creeping phlox (Phlox subulata). Make sure whatever you select is very low growing to maintain the sightline if you need to be able to see out of, say, a driveway. If height is not an issue you might try a fast-spreading daylily. Finally, if the slope is truly steep and in danger of eroding, consult with a landscape architect for assistance in designing a suitable retaining wall or series of terraces. Good luck with your project.

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