Landscaping a Hillside

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One of the most asked questions I get is, “I have a hillside that I need to landscape, could you make some recommendations on plants?”


There are few ‘groundcover’ plants found in our native forests. The idea of a groundcover plant is a relatively new one. In fact, we do not need ground covers. We only need to do what Mother Nature does and mulch with leaves and sticks!

Mother Nature holds the mountains together with a mulch of leaves and sticks underneath the forest. You do not find natural groundcovers. Most groundcovers are invasive plants i.e. english ivy, periwinkle, etc.

For shady woods, I would suggest using mulch. When the leaves fall in at the end of the summer, use them as mulch. Be sure to keep all your leaves and limbs that fall and your pruning waste and spread it out over the sloping land. If nature does not provide enough mulch, you should use single ground mulch or shredded hardwood mulch.
English ivy kills trees

English ivy kills trees

In sunny areas, often we simply plant the whole hillside in creeping shrubs such as cotoneaster or creeping evergreen juniper such as shore juniper or blue rug juniper. These plants work but they are kind of boring to be honest.

juniper groundcover

In sunny areas, I would recommend using a mix of native woody ornamental plant types, some shrubs, small trees and vines. I would also use some native grasses, mulch and a few boulders to complete the natural look.
landscaped hillside
Here are some plant lists I made that you might find useful: