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Dyfed, United Kingdom Gb

I have a west facing rough ground steep bank, very little poor soil which dries out in the summer. What would be the best ground cover, low maintainance as it is very steep approx 70 degrees and too high to be able to reach more than half way up without a ladder? West coast of Wales approx 1 mile from the sea.



Vinca (periwinkle) varieties would work well. There's a variegated Vinca major which would romp over the bank, help hold it together and you could just prune it where it tries to leave its space.

Variegated ivies would do too.

How high is the bank overall and can you reach the top by another route? If you can, you could have plants scrambling down from the top as well as reaching up from the bottom.

One of the problems with getting plants established on a really steep slope is that any rain or water added by you rolls off really fast without being absorbed. What I've done when planting on very steep banks is to wiggle out a planting hole, then incorporate some of the water-retaining gel they sell for hanging baskets (or use the one with gel and slow release fertiliser combined) in the soil around it before putting the plant in. If you can arrange a little flat "watering platform" behind the plant it helps slow water down as it goes down the slope. You end up with a series of mini terraces which won't last forever but help the plants establish.

Our soil is very stony, when I make a hole to plant in there are always some stones left out so I use these to build a little "balcony" in front of the new plant. It helps to hold the soil in position and gives space to form the watering platform behind. Over time the balcony collapses, but by then the plant's roots have taken over that job.

9 Nov, 2010


Sounds like a job for ivy (hedera). Hedera helix varieties tend to be smaller, so if its not a large area, you'd be best off choosing from those - other Hederas get much larger and spread further, often with larger leaves, so make your selection carefully, checking the spread.

9 Nov, 2010


Some of the flat growing Cotoneasters like C.dammeri have been used very successfully in these situations.
Er, out of interest Hedera helix is the standard so called English Ivy with hundreds of forms, many of which are extremely invasive, but there are smaller forms of it. The other species are H. hiburnica, colchia, canariensis, nepalensis, maderensis, maroccana, pastuchovii and rhombea.

9 Nov, 2010

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