10 Best Plants for Erosion Control in Your Yard

The best plants for erosion control are those ground covers or shrubs that are vigorous, attractive, and have a root system effective at holding back soil on a hill. They should have spreading foliage to slow the velocity of heavy rain. If you live in deer country they should also be plants thatdeer tend to resist eating. The following list gives you a variety of choices, each of which meets these criteria.In your plant selection, aim for a balance between beauty and practicality. The prettiest plant you find in a garden catalog will disappoint you if you grow it under the wrong conditions (too much shade or sun) or to serve a function it is not suited to serve.You also have to strike a balance between beauty and vigor, since you may not want to create a landscape-maintenance nightmare by introducing plants to your yard that are going to spread beyond the bounds you intend for them. Some of the best plants for erosion control will be too aggressive for some homeowners, so evaluate the selections on a case-by-case basis.Few landscaping issues are more pressing and more challenging than erosion control, particularly when you are trying to protect a steep slope from eroding.In addition to growingperennial ground coversand shrubs, such as deutzia, that will spread and strike down roots to retain soil, consider creating terraces. The average DIY’er is quite capable of making terraces viasmall stone retaining wallson a gradual slope, but, for steep slopes in imminent danger of eroding, the job is best left to pros. 01 of 10 Creeping Junipers The Spruce / Autumn Wood Creeping junipers are among the ground covers thatlike a lot of sun. Happily, they stay short (generally no more than 1 foot) and they’re cold-hardy (many being suited to zone 3 to 9). Juniperus plants give you landscape color year-round because they’re evergreen. There are several cultivars, including:’Blue Rug’ (J. horizontalisWiltonii): valued for its blue foliageJ. horizontalis’Prince of Wales’: one of the shorter kinds, being just 6 inches tallJ. horizontalis’Lime Glow’: for those who prefer yellowish-green foliage 02 of 10 Vinca Minor (Periwinkle) The Spruce / David BeaulieuIn contrast with creeping juniper, Vinca minor is one of theground covers that can take shade. But, like creeping juniper, it’s a short (3 to 6 inches) evergreen.Another of the convenient features of creeping myrtle (zones4 to 8) is that it’s adrought-tolerant ground cover.Steep hillsides can be some of the least accessible areas of a landscape for homeowners, meaning that watering plants in such spots can be problematic. Plants that are naturally drought-tolerant take some of the pressure off you to care for them. 03 of 10 Forsythia elzauer / Getty ImagesDon’t think that you are limited to ground covers (perennials and small shrubs that grow horizontally)in fighting erosion (although, in some cases, for aesthetic reasons, you may prefer shorter plants).In fact, in severe cases of erosion where you need quick results, shrubs can be the best plants for erosion control: They can strike bigger, tougher roots down into the soil. They can form tenacious root systems that are great at retaining soil.Forsythia (zones 5 to 8, 4 to 6 feettall) is one such plant, ashrub that flowers in early spring. The weeping form (Forsythia suspensa) can be a particularly good choice for retaining soil on a slope: Where the drooping branches touch dirt, they will strike down roots, thereby acting as ground covers. 04 of 10 Japanese Spurge The Spruce / David BeaulieuLike creeping myrtle,Pachysandra terminalisis a short (6 inches), evergreen ground cover for shade.Japanese spurge (zones 4 to 8) is considered afoliage plant. Although it does put out small, white flowers, they add little value.The leaves have a leathery feel and look that lends further interest to your property.Continue to 5 of 10 below. 05 of 10 Spotted Dead Nettle The Spruce / David BeaulieuWhat Lamium maculatumhas over Japanese spurge is the combination of nice leaves and pretty flowers. It has silvery foliage, and flower color, depending on cultivar, is usually white, pink or purplish. This foot-tall perennial tolerant of full shade is hardy in zones 4 to 8. 06 of 10 Border Grass Natasha Sioss / Getty ImagesLiriope spicata looks like anornamental grass but isn’t. This perennial (1 foot in height, zones 4 to 10) is actually in the asparagus family. Silver Dragon is avariegated cultivar, adding striking foliage to the impact already made by the plant’s flower spikes. Grow it inpartial shade. 07 of 10 Black Mondo Grass The Spruce / David BeaulieuTolerant of sun or partial shade,Ophiopogon planiscapusNigrescens(6 inches tall) is grown for the black color of its grass-like blades. Even the berries that sometimes succeed its flowers are black. In a sunny spot, grow this zone-6-to-9 oddity as a companion plant forSedum rupestreAngelina; the gold color of the latter’s leaves will create a striking contrast. 08 of 10 Creeping Phlox DAJ / Getty ImagesIn addition to controlling erosion, Phlox subulatasteals the visual show when in bloom with its carpet of brightly-colored flowers. When you see the blossoms on this short (6 inches) creeping plantfor zones 3 to 9, you know thatspringis underway.Continue to 9 of 10 below. 09 of 10 Interrupted Fern  Laszlo Podor / Getty ImagesFor a change of pace, try awild plant on your shady slope. Therhizomes that allowOsmunda claytoniana(2 to 3 feet tall, zones 3 to 8) to spread are excellent for retaining soil and thereby minimizing erosion. Tolerant of wet soils, it’s also a great choice for damp hillsides. 10 of 10 Rockspray Cotoneaster Gillian Plummer / Getty ImagesCotoneaster horizontalis(zones 5 to 7) is another choice from the shrub world that is among the best plants for erosion control. You’ll like its horizontal plant formif you’re looking for a selection that doesn’t get too tall (3 feet) but that spreads and puts out big, tough roots that will stabilize the ground on a slope.

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