Pacific Coast Gardening forum: Best ground cover for rocky cliff?

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Name: Holly
Russian River Ca. (Zone 9b)
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Hollyhawk
Oct 15, 2014 9:36 PM CST
Hi all. Recently moved to the Russian River area and have a big problemo. Three feet in back of my house is a rocky cliff, about 20' wide x 10' tall. When it does rain hard the dirt just slides down to the side walk. Can't put in a retainer wall because of the large rock portions.

This is a part sun am part shade pm, thinking ajuga, but maybe there is something more interesting. Any suggestions?

I will be using a home made seed mat stapled in. This is going to be quite a bit of work so I cannot afford to make a mistake.

Thanks in advance for your advice, Holly
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Oct 17, 2014 1:22 PM CST

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Some pretty "cliffs" in Sebastopol are covered by Delosperma:
Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)

I've used it to cover sloping areas and it holds the soil in place. Seed mats sound like a lot of work. I just buy flats and plug the plants in, leaving about 6-8 inches clearance around them. The plants quickly spread to fill those spaces.
[Last edited by zuzu - Oct 17, 2014 1:23 PM (+)]
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Name: Holly
Russian River Ca. (Zone 9b)
Bee Lover
Hollyhawk
Oct 21, 2014 12:55 PM CST
Thank you Zuzu. Thinking I will use a combo of plants. Plugs will work in parts. Unfortunately some of it will have to be mats.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Nov 30, 2014 7:16 PM CST
How steep is your cliff ? or is it more of a slope ?

Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Holly
Russian River Ca. (Zone 9b)
Bee Lover
Hollyhawk
Dec 26, 2014 1:44 PM CST
Lyn, parts of it are concave having tree roots, maple and ca. bay hold the next section going up, which is climbable.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Dec 26, 2014 7:39 PM CST
Hi Holly ...

Are you saying that this part of your property is very vertical ?

When I bought my house, what I call "the slope" was already planted by the previous owner, but I've found out the hard way, that the plants hide the drop offs and that in places, one could easily call sections of it a cliff.

Mrs. J planted four different kinds of junipers going across the whole slope and I am certain they play a big role in holding the slope in place. For me, they are no care plants. They even came through the third year of extreme drought without supplemental watering. I consider them to be work horse plants for the slope.

I only have to go up there every couple of years to remove volunteer pine trees and volunteer blackberries. Mrs. J kept them groomed, but I've let them just go natural and I like the look.

To manage erosion in the areas that are not planted, Mrs. J faced the slope with river rock. She did plant some irises and vinca up there, but I don't work at making either thrive. They kind of have to take care of themselves because I am working in other areas of the garden.

I do have a fence between the slope and the house pad, but it does not function as a retaining wall. Everything behind the fence is rocked.

I am glad I didn't have to plant the slope because it is all rock. Digging holes for plants would have just about killed me. Mrs. J must have had help ... Rolling my eyes.

I know when people think of landscaping with junipers, they think, "Yuk ! How boring !", but with the mix of different cultivars going across the whole area, it's really quite interesting. There are a couple of forsythia shrubs, a couple of liquid amber trees and in the center, she planted a white fir.

These aren't the best photos, but they will give you an idea of what I am talking about.

Thumb of 2014-12-27/RoseBlush1/567ec7 Thumb of 2014-12-27/RoseBlush1/4e0203

Thumb of 2014-12-27/RoseBlush1/84b2bf Thumb of 2014-12-27/RoseBlush1/e879bb

The previous owner of my neighbor's property planted St. John's Wart and it has covered his slope quite well, but there are also junipers at the base. Both seem to control erosion problems.

I hope this gives you some ideas.

Smiles,
Lyn

I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Dec 28, 2014 12:55 PM CST
http://www.laspilitas.com/garden/groundcover.html

Just curious...why do you 'have to' staple in a home-made seed mat?
Name: Dee Moore
Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a)
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DomehomeDee
Jan 5, 2015 10:46 PM CST
I like the combo idea. I use Aptenia cordifolia on my "front slope" which is steep.
If you need a box of cuttings, they root easy and I would send you some for postage, a little closer to spring would be better.
Groundcover to the right of the stairs. Another one would be sedum album, that's been a real good one for coverage for me and it grows in sun and shade.
Thumb of 2015-01-06/DomehomeDee/21b741

Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses
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zuzu
Jan 6, 2015 12:08 AM CST

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Lucky girl, DHD. I'd love to have Aptenia cordifolia (Mesembryanthemum cordifolium) on my slope, but it dies back here in the frost. I have a large clump growing in a scree bed by the back door, but it has to start over from scratch each spring. Looks like it's thriving on your property.

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