The Q&A Archives: plants that would be low maintenance and yet help prevent erosion of hilly area

Question: I am wondering as to how I should proceed with my project. Have ground area between sidewalk and driveway; all of which is part of a hill leading up to a condo . In this area I have plants called Autumn Joy spaced intermittently with red rocks covering spaces in between. Problem, weeds keep growing out from under the rocks. I am in the process of digging out this area to lower the ground level below the cemented areas. I am wondering if all I need to do is replace with a heavier layer of red rock to prevent the growth of weeds; also, will the red rock and the Autumn Joy plants be enough to keep the dirt from eroding. Or is there a plant or ground cover that would be better suited for what I want to accomplish. There is full sunlight in the morning, partial afternoon shade to full shade in evening.

Answer: Since you're digging the area to remove the weeds anyway, I'd suggest putting down some weed barrier after you've removed the weeds. First, rake out all the red rocks. Then dig or pull the weeds, roots and all. When you've removed the weeds, lay down weed barrier (available in garden centers), or several thicknesses of newspaper. The idea is to cover the bare earth with a light-blocking material. Once you've put down your weed barrier, replace the red rocks. This should keep weeds from popping out in the rock. Sedum Autumn Joy will eventually grow large enough to cover most of the rocks, or you could add a groundcover such as Vinca, Ajuga, Wintercreeper, Cornus canadensis (Bunch Berry), Bergenia, or Lamium maculatum. If you decide to include a groundcover, you'll need simply to push the rocks out of the way and punch a planting hole through the weed barrier, then replace the rocks.

Best wishes with your flower bed!

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