What to plant on an rocky embankment?
May 3, 2021 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a short, steep, rocky bank off of our back patio photos here). It’s slowly eroding - thoughts on what to plant on it?

The erosion isn’t helped by our 6 year old climbing it. The soil is rocky and not great. This is at high elevation in Utah (~7000 feet), and is frequently snow covered and very cold for 5 months a year (Nov - late March). The area gets partial direct sunshine (early to late afternoon / shaded most of the morning). Getting water to it isn’t a problem as needed - though for several months a year I’ll need to do that by soaker hose.

At some stage I’m going to need to do something with it more structural - maybe adding more boulders to give Mr Six an actual bounding path to climb. None of the railing posts at the top are loose yet but, even with relatively slow erosion, I expect in a few years we could have an issue - especially if we don’t start mitigating now. This is initially really just to try and hold as much of the bank there as possible.

Six year old is under instructions not to climb it - but compliance is highly variable to that…….
posted by inflatablekiwi to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Edit: I mean the rail poles at the top are not loose yet.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 8:50 AM on May 3

Best answer: Hens and chicks and sedums might be a good choice, especially on the top (because they're on the smaller side and good for filling in cracks). They are cold hardy through Zone 4 and generally don't have an issue with winter weather.

Same thing for creeping phlox, but that is hardy through Zone 3 and flowers in spring/summer.

Hostas of various types could be good, too. They're green all year, spread well, and are very easy maintenance. They're hardy through Zone 3.
posted by nowadays at 9:59 AM on May 3

Best answer: Creeping Jenny grows in high elevation, is a quick grower and used for erosion control.

Check out this site for other options: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/ground-covers-and-rock-garden-plants-for-mountain-communities-7-413/#:~:text=Most%20ground%20covers%20require%20at%20least%20two%20years,neglected%20even%20after%20the%20planting%20is%20well%20established.
posted by teamnap at 10:00 AM on May 3

Best answer: High altitude, sunny, semi-arid, snow covered lots of the year... sounds like my climate.

The native ground covers around here I'd suggest are creeping juniper (juniperus horizontalis, "thrives on neglect") and kinnikkinnick (arctostaphylos uva-ursi aka bearberry), which is common ground cover on sunny slopes in the Canadian Rockies foothills and front ranges.

Both are hardy to zone 2, both handle dry steep slopes, both are aesthetic, have interesting texture and require little upkeep. They both have medicinal and other uses but as Joe Santoro says, I don't need to be able to make a potion out of it to appreciate it.
posted by bumpkin at 2:00 PM on May 3

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