Hill ground cover

Asked October 18, 2018, 4:24 PM EDT

I have a cabin located on Budd Lake in Clare County. The hill going toward the lake faces the East and is very steep. The previous owner let it grow over with weeds. I am looking to take out the weeds and plant some kind of ground cover that will be very low maintenance (very steep hill) and native to the area. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. GO GREEN!

Clare County Michigan flowers: annuals and herbaceous perennials

1 Response

Hello,

Ground-covering plants can be anything from grasses to wildflowers through low shrubs and vines. Please keep in mind that no matter what you plant, you will need to provide water until the plants are fully established. Choose plants suited to the soil type in the area. It is best to test your soil first, before deciding on specific plants. A test gives you your soil type, pH, nutrient and organic matter levels.

This list of low maintenance grasses is from Univ. Of Minnesota Extension-

“Fine fescues will grow on low fertility sites and need minimal fertilizer or water once established. Fine fescues are drought tolerant and can be mowed as little as once or twice a year. Native grasses can also be used for permanent cover. You can mix native grasses with other native flowering plants for a more pleasing effect. Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis) covers the ground rapidly, spreading from underground stems, and has attractive nodding heads. It is fairly shade-tolerant. Side-oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) and blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) are common dry prairie grasses that will form sods and grow on steep slopes. All three of the above grasses prefer full sun. Sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), another dry prairie grass, can be planted either in sand or on heavier soils. It is a pioneer on disturbed areas and is deep-rooted and very drought-tolerant. Establishment of native grasses can take several years, and for larger sites, working with professional landscaping companies that specialize in native restoration projects is recommended.”

This publication has a list of plants suited to steep slopes on page 34—

https://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/51549/08464.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

These references include slope planting ideas—

https://www.canr.msu.edu/nativeplants/plant_facts/local_info/index

https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/smart_lawns_for_pollinators

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/going_native_can_be_a_smart_choice_for_michigan_landscapes

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/drought_tolerant_plants_save_water_money_and_time

A MSU Soil Test can be purchased at the next link, the $25 fee includes the postage for mailing back to the lab. You can take a soil sample any time the ground isn’t frozen—-

https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/soil_test_kit_self-mailer

Once you know your soil pH and soil type, the list of best plants will narrow down. I hope this helps get you started. We’ll be happy to answer other questions on the test results or your specific plant choices. Thank you for using our service.