Groundcover Plants for Steep Banks

Updated February 21, 2017

You can use ground covers to give the steep bank near your home or in your landscape a fresh new look. Ground covers hide harsh bare soil, and they also prevent more valuable topsoil from pulling away from the bank. A number of ground covers thrive on steep banks, and they can both soften and refine the look of your landscape.


Known scientifically as Ajuga reptans, this ground cover grows to a mature height that is between 4 and 12 inches. It is a prolific grower that may take over the area, so plant it sparingly or make it the primary ground cover that you keep on the slope. It does well on moist slopes and thrives in sun shade. The flowers are a pale lavender blue, and the foliage is bronze-purple in colour.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley, known scientifically as Convallaria majalis, is a herb that grows up to 8 inches tall. It grips well to steep banks, and according to the West Virginia University Extension, it can thrive in poor soil. It can tolerate sun or shade, and it produces fragrant, bell-shaped white flowers that give way to red berries in the fall. To keep it looking its best, plant it in a place where there is a lot of run-off water from the bank.

Sweet Fern

Sweet fern is known scientifically as Comptonia peregrina, and it is a shrub that reaches a full height between 2 and 4 feet tall. It has sweet-scented leaves with small, inconspicuous white flowers. It does well in acidic, sandy or peaty soils and does not require fertilising. Sweet fern requires full light. According to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, it is an ideal choice for steep sandy banks with poor soil quality, as its mass of underground stems keeps the soil from washing away.


Switchgrass is known as Panicum virgatum, and it is a perennial grassy ground cover that grows to a full height of between 3 and 6 feet tall. It produces lacy sprays of reddish-purple seed heads, and the bright green leaves turn yellow in the fall. It does well on dry and shallow soils and it tolerates poor drainage well. It has deep fibrous roots, and according to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, it is an effective soil stabiliser on steep banks.

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