Native Plants for Slopes

Perennial ground-cover plants can be used to protect tree roots or to assist in reducing soil erosion. Native plants serve as both a beautiful addition to the landscape and as a vital tool in the prevention of topsoil loss. Ground covers come in varieties that feature fantastic foliage or flowers. These plants spread readily just beneath the surface of the soil to create a blanket on the ground that holds soil in place on sloped areas of the landscape. Perennial ground covers return every year and require little maintenance by the homeowner.

Lamb's Ear

Interesting foliage often graces the most beautiful ground covers. Lamb's ear features exactly this type of dramatic display with fuzz-covered, gray-green leaves. This ground cover grows up to 10 inches tall and spreads readily to over 2 feet wide. Lamb's ear thrives in full sun and tolerates heat well. This plant doesn't produce flowers and prefers well-drained soil. Lamb's ear is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.

Vinca Minor

A low-growing evergreen ground cover, vinca minor produces shiny green leaves in the partial shade environment. This tough perennial spreads readily across garden surfaces in sloped areas. Vinca minor blooms with violet or blue flower in the late spring. Vinca minor grows well in moist soil and can be transplanted easily by digging up small sections of the vine. This plant will mound slightly in confined spaces. Vinca minor performs poorly in the bright sun and may exhibit yellowed leaves in this planting condition. This plant is hardy in zones 3 to 8.

Creeping Phlox

Phlox produces a star-shaped flower in a variety of colors, including white, pink and two-tone variations. Phlox serves as a beautiful ground cover with mounding tendencies. This plant requires good drainage to produce light green, thin leaves. This plant grows in zones 3 to 9 and tolerates many soil types, including dry conditions once the plant becomes established. Creeping phlox forms a dense ground cover, although older plants may exhibit bald patches. Phlox transplants easily and looks beautiful draped over retaining walls or when placed alone on a steep bank.


Ornamental grass ground covers add interest to the landscape with mounds of brilliant green foliage. Liriope serves as a beautiful ground cover to protect tree roots and hold soil in place on steep slopes. Liriope has shallow roots that allow this plant to serve as a low border plant with thin, arching leaves. This plant produces a stalk with bright purple berrylike flowers in the summer. Liriope looks beautiful when planted in groups and spreads readily to form a dense ground cover. Lirope provides a beautiful alternative to maintaining grass on a sloped area. This drought-tolerant plant thrives in zones 4 to 9.

Keywords: plants for slopes, ground cover, native ground cover

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.