The Q&A Archives: Steep Bank Needs Beautification

Question: I have this bank that is rather steep along one side of the driveway. It has an abundance of sumac trees and briar bushes that are rather unattractive. I am looking for a solution as to how to get rid of the weeds I don't want and what I should be looking for to plant there that would help its appearance. I am thinking about planting creeping mrytle but need to get rid of the sumac first. What should I do?

Answer: Sumac is a very hardy, tenacious weed/shrub and it will be difficult to eliminate it from your garden. If you want to start all over, and it is appropriate for your site, you could have a contractor come in and cut down/dig up/till the area. But this isa drastic, expensive endeavor, and it's likely that you will still get more shoots coming up from any roots left behind. Perhaps the best thing to do is to simply prune off the sumac shoots as soon as you see them emerge. Keep doing this throughout the growing season. It will take a while, even a few years, but it will eventually deplete the nutrient stores in the sumac's root system.

Once you get the weed situation under control, you can choose a ground cover. Crown vetch is a common choice for steep banks, because its vast root system helps control erosion. Your other options will be determined by whether the area is in full sun or shade.

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