Ground covers help stabilize soil and stop erosion on banks in both wet and dry areas. They serve as a "living mulch," according to the West Virginia Extension, helping retain moisture and eliminate weeds. They also add organic matter to soil as they break down and decay. Using ground covers of various heights and textures, combined with bulbs and trees, can unify your bank's design.
Wichura rose (Rose wichuraiana), also called memorial rose, is a semi-evergreen, trailing vine ground cover. It is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 8. Wichura rose is a rapid grower, spreading up to 15 feet wide and 12 inches tall. It has shiny green leaves and small white flowers. According to the West Virginia extension, it is particularly good on banks. Wichura rose needs full sun and well-drained soil.
Bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) is an evergreen ground cover that likes wet, peaty bogs. It has a creeping rootstock that grows about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Hardy in USDA zones 2 to 6, bog rosemary dislikes heat and humidity. Its showy white and pink flowers are shaped like urns.
Crown vetch (Coronilla varia) is a vine-like perennial ground cover that spreads quickly up steep banks. It reaches 2 feet tall and several feet in diameter, although it will die back to the crown in cold weather. Crown vetch is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. Its tiny flowers, which are lavender to pink and arranged along the stems, are attractive to bees. It grows in full to partial sun, and it can thrive in all but poorly drained soils.
Northern Bush Honeysuckle
Northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) is a ground cover shrub well suited to dry and wasteland banks found in the open woods. It prefers sun to partial shade and fertile soil. It thrives in USDA zones 3 to 10. This small shrub grows to 3 feet high and up to 5 feet wide, with yellow tubular flowers and glossy green leaves.
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