No two hillsides are the same!

No two hill­sides are the same!

Many cus­tomers come into the nurs­ery inquir­ing about plants that would be suit­able for a hill­side. Although this is a direct ques­tion, it is not always pos­si­ble to give a direct answer if we know noth­ing about “your” hill­side. How steep is it? Is it a hill­side you can actu­ally “mean­der” through? Does it have easy access for main­te­nance? Are you look­ing out onto the hill­side from your kitchen win­dow or your main room and there­fore wish to have some­thing really eye-catching? Is it very sunny? Does it have any irri­ga­tion? Are there steps going up to the top where you can have a “look-out” bench? Etc., etc., etc….. You can under­stand how your ques­tion is not pos­si­ble to answer with­out acquir­ing a great deal of infor­ma­tion before we can make any sug­ges­tions.

Also, we don’t know what your gar­den looks like! Is it Japanese-inspired, con­tem­po­rary, or full of Cal­i­for­nia natives and grasses? Does it mat­ter if it has a “style” or would a good ground cover do? So, if you do intend to plant your hill­side or slope this year, here are some sug­ges­tions to con­sider.

AGAVES can be an excel­lent choice if that’s a look you like and will work in your exist­ing land­scape. There is a wide selec­tion of very attrac­tive vari­eties avail­able to us in Cal­i­for­nia, so shop around. Many of them spread 3’ – 5’, which cov­ers a lot of hill­side! As well as being (rel­a­tively) low main­te­nance, they require lit­tle water. So the more they spread, the fewer plants you need to buy.

GRASSES too, are excel­lent options. There are so many stun­ning grasses in Cal­i­for­nia — the selec­tion is end­less. Since they come in every color, tex­ture and height, it doesn’t take very much work to “cre­ate” a lot of inter­est with very lit­tle effort. Most grasses are “clump­ing” in their growth habit and do not spread very wide — unlike suc­cu­lents and agaves. You can, how­ever, do a com­bi­na­tion of suc­cu­lents and grasses, which can look really spec­tac­u­lar.

GROUNDCOVERS — It is impor­tant to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between ground­cov­ers that have a super­fi­cial root sys­tem, com­pared to those that are intended to “knit” the soil together. Those with a more super­fi­cial root sys­tem are good purely for “fill­ing in” between plant­i­ngs for effect, on flat ground. For a hill­side, you need a more sub­stan­tial root sys­tem that will help hold the hill­side (soil) in place. Some com­mon ground cov­ers, such as ivy, or vinca major, work very well in cer­tain loca­tions. How­ever, using peren­ni­als that work like ground cov­ers is gen­er­ally the best way to deal effec­tively, long-term, with a hill­side – and cre­ate more inter­est, too.

Leave a Reply