Eroded, shady, and tree-root covered slope--any late summer or fall options?

Asked August 17, 2020, 4:23 PM EDT

Is there anything I can do in late summer or fall to get a shady, eroded slope ready for planting ground cover plants? There are a lot of maple and crab apple tree roots (clay soil + erosion). Would mulch help? Do I need to add top soil first? Are there ground cover plants that can still be planted in August or September?

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response

Is there anything I can do in late summer or fall to get a shady, eroded slope ready for planting ground cover plants? You can break up clay soil by amending it with compost, that, you can obtain from local nurseries. You can also use ground up leaves in the fall to breakdown the clay. There is also a product called soil conditioner which when used with compost improves soil structure.

There are a lot of maple and crab apple tree roots (clay soil + erosion). The roots may help to, slow the further erosion. They may also interfere with planting ground covers.

Would mulch help? Once you have amended the soil, the choice of groundcover would depend on whether you are planting in the shade or in the sun. Ajuga and hostas will manage well in the shade but others like Black-eyed Susan and bee balm prefer the sun.

Do I need to add topsoil first? Your clay soil needs amending as described above.

Are there ground cover plants that can still be planted in August or September? You can plant in the late summer or early fall. The challenge is that this has been a very hot, dry summer. Once you have amended the soil, the choice of groundcover would depend on whether you are planting in the shade or in the sun. Ajuga and hostas will manage well in the shade but others like Black-eyed Susan and bee balm prefer the sun.