Avatar for gmoniey
May 22, 2016 4:43 PM CST
Thread OP


New to the forum, and was hoping to get some advice. At our home, we have a hill right behind our pool, and it's mostly brown with dirt. We've recently put in some young plants, but I'm hoping to find some plants that provide more ground cover.

Here are some pictures to give you a better sense of things:


I'm looking for something that is consistently green, and I can water using a drip system (e.g. has a single base).

A good example of this is the plant in the middle of the first picture. It's always green, and has extended down the hill a fair amount. I'm open to having more of these put in, I just don't know what type of plant it is.

Also, I do plan on filling in with some trees (we had some beautiful Japanese maples that died during construction). If anyone knows that type of tree this is, I'd love to have it put it as well:


Thanks in advance!
May 22, 2016 6:04 PM CST
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages
Hi @gmoniey Welcome to NGA

It is difficult to recommend plants without knowing what hardiness zone you are in. Your state and hardiness zone will go a long way toward helping you find plants that will thrive in your garden.
May 22, 2016 6:41 PM CST
Name: Amanda
KC metro area, Missouri (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: Missouri Native Plants and Wildflowers Roses
Region: United States of America Zinnias Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Also does the spot receive a lot of shade or sun or is it part of each? That will help too knowing that and when the sun hits the area.
Avatar for gmoniey
May 22, 2016 6:56 PM CST
Thread OP

Sorry about that. I'm in Bay Area, CA.

The area is under heavy sun, with not too much shade.

Using this map, I'm in zone 10b


Thanks for your help!
May 22, 2016 7:26 PM CST
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages
Here is a site that has quite a few zone 10, full sun ground covers, including perennial herbs like woolly Thyme.


The plants in this link are zone 10 full sun only.


Avatar for gmoniey
May 22, 2016 8:04 PM CST
Thread OP

That pdf is really helpful. Thanks!

I'm assuming the "Plant X inches apart" indicates how much potential growth there will be?

My ideal scenario is a plant similar to the one in the middle of my first picture, that will continue to grow downhill and cover up more area. Ideally planting fewer plants that will growth farther/bigger than more plants that stay smaller.

Also, part of my motivation is not to put any mulch in the area, since the hill is pretty steep, and right above the pool, I'm worried about the mulch falling into the pool. We currently have that problem with dirt, which I'm hoping more ground cover will solve.
May 22, 2016 9:05 PM CST
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages
You are most welcome.

If directions state: space plants 18 inches apart, it means that the plant, when mature, will cover an area roughly 9 inches from the plant center in all directions.

You may want to consider some of the border plants for the area immediately behind the retaining wall. Using either lily turf (Liriope species) or Monkey grass/Mondo grass ( Ophiopogon japonicus) which are both usually evergreen, clump forming, easy care, easily divided plants.

May 26, 2016 1:17 PM CST
Name: Andi
Delray Beach, FL (Zone 10b)
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap
I am in zone 6. I like thyme (creeping thyme, culinary thyme, etc.) in sunny areas. I also like alyssum with my flowers. I think a bright yellow "gold alyssum" may cheer up the mound of dirt.
May 26, 2016 1:37 PM CST
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
Helianthemum (rock rose or sun rose) are also nice. They are evergreen, with either gray or green leaves, and come in all sort of colors. I find they spread quickly. One of my favs is 'Ben Nevis' which is a bright orange that doesn't get very tall. There are also various shades of pink, red, yellow, or white. Easy care.

I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
May 26, 2016 4:15 PM CST
Name: Cheryl
North of Houston TX (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Plumerias Ponds
Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Gosh @Bonehead. ^^ That is just beautiful!! Thumbs up Drooling
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Avatar for gmoniey
May 27, 2016 11:19 AM CST
Thread OP

Those are really pretty. How do they do with drip systems?

I suppose I'm optimizing for planting the least number of plants, but have the most coverage. So ideally plants that have a single base but grow outwards (not upwards) significantly.
May 27, 2016 12:56 PM CST
Name: Deb
Planet Earth (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level
I don't water except when it gets really dry (August) but I'm sure a drip system would work well. 'Ben Nevis' is a more prostate form of helianthemum, definitely grows out more than up. I've got other forms 'Ben Ledi' and 'Wisley' which are more mounding. Each of the helianthemums in the landscape shot were 4" pots to begin with, so you can see how well they fill in. I think this shot was taken during the 2nd year after setting them in. Tough plants, easy care, no particular issues with disease or bugs that I've experienced.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Avatar for Frillylily
May 28, 2016 4:16 PM CST
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Enjoys or suffers cold winters Enjoys or suffers hot summers Ponds Peonies Region: Missouri
Lilies Keeper of Koi Irises Hydrangeas Garden Photography Cottage Gardener
tree in your last pic looks like a red bud. I don't know if they live in your zone or not, but I think that is what it is, hard to tell from the photo. Honestly you have quite a problem here, I can imagine that during periods of heavy rain (which you do get sometimes?) this slope is steep enough to call a hill... it is going to wash all kinds of stuff into the pool area. I don't think any wood mulch is a good idea because it will float as well. You may consider putting in some large rock to help hold the soil in place and then plant in the pockets that are left. The best thing to do is find a local nursery/landscaper that is more familiar w plants in your zone and the erosion issue. Around here some people use a lower growing juniper evergreen to help cover the ground in slopes. I am thinking smaller plants will not root deep enough to fix this and it will still wash out ?
Jun 5, 2016 12:30 PM CST
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Region: Pacific Northwest Plays in the sandbox Seed Starter Plant and/or Seed Trader
Winter Sowing
Classic advice for poolside plantings is to avoid prickly plants, junipers are prickly although there might be some that are less so. You are going to have to crawl around to weed, so even up higher on the slope prickly things might be a problem.
How about this Verbena from Annie's annuals, a local vender for you. Annie's also has a nice search tool. I also thought of Helianthemum, around here they are sometimes used in parking lots, so your tough spot might be perfect.
Jul 6, 2016 12:38 AM CST
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Orchids Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Mexico Sedums Tropicals
Tibouchina tree is what I believe your tree is. I grew ajuga groundcover for years near my pool. It fills a large area quickly on runners like a strawberry, and blooms nice purple flowers in summer. http://www.pssc.ttu.edu/techho... I cannot seem to put a link in but google ajuga bugleweed. It's a quick growing but not really invasive groundcover, with no brown dead patches, and a small little root system. There is also the succulent iceplant that flowers different colors. May be expensive to cover a large area. I feel like some ornamental grasses would be lovely here. You have a nice start already to this project. Goodluck. It will be fun to see this project complete.
Last edited by lauriebasler Aug 7, 2016 12:49 AM Icon for preview
Jul 6, 2016 1:57 AM CST
Name: robbyjoe01
Wichita, KS (Zone 6b)
Retired man. born in 1960.
Plant and/or Seed Trader
Prunella vulgaris (self heal) is a good choice for ground cover. Throw in some garlic chive also for a fresh culinary pick both are quite hardy.
Avatar for RpR
Jul 6, 2016 11:59 AM CST
Name: Dr. Demento Jr.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
That might be, if it will not spread to unwanted areas, a good place for Creeping Charlie.
Sharon put some as ground cover in a raised garden I made for her for several years and it looked and smelled good and never was a real problem for going where it was not wanted.
Even though the garden was low enough it went over the edge and through the cracks between the blocks on occasion.

I have used Oxalis in my rose garden till I found out it is a plant that can carry some diseases without suffering from them.
It never hurt the roses but did affect the ground cherries I had in the rose garden for a time to the point I quit having ground cherries.
The sad thing is the disease came from a ground cherry plant I bought at green house, not the oxalis, as they were disease free till I bought that one. The oxalis just helped spread it as they were the type of oxalis that spreads itself.
Jul 17, 2016 10:53 AM CST
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Orchids Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Mexico Sedums Tropicals
Helianthemum (rock rose or sun rose), I hope I remember to try these next year, Bonehead. Your plantings are just amazing.
Aug 3, 2016 6:07 PM CST
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
I think you want to reduce the surface runoff of mud, going down a hillside.

But you're looking for plants with a single stem, and as wide as possible!

I'm just typing as I think, but wouldn't you need continuous roots near the surface to hold on to the SURFACE soil? Like sod (a mass of tangled roots and single stalks)? I would be thinking of cover crops like clover or alfalfa or something tolerant of drought, heat, and steep slopes.

My mental image for single-stem wide plants is one rootball every (say) 12 inches.
Wouldn't the surface soil just wash away from between each plant, except for a few square inches right around the stem?

Maybe plant roots reach for the surface more than I think. But I always assume I can cultivate an inch or two deep all around my vegetables, and even close to the stems, I expect to see no roots for the first inch or so.

If a whole inch washed off a hillside, it might fill your pool to the rim!

This is just speculation, so ignore it if fairly widely separated bushes can work for erosion control.
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