First: Take a Soil Test
You should still have a soil test performed
so that you know the pH (acidity or alkalinity) and fertility level
of the soil, which will aid in proper plant selection. Soil test
kits are available from your local Penn State Extension office for a
nominal fee. In Allegheny County, consumer soil test kits cost $12
each, and come with detailed instructions for taking a good soil
sample and information to help you understand your soil test
results. Customers ordering multiple kits at one time pay $9 each
for the additional kits. Send a check made payable to Penn State
Extension to Penn State Extension, 400 North Lexington Street,
Pittsburgh, PA 15208. Write Attn. Soil Test Kit in the lower left
corner of the envelope.
Since you have a sunny hillside, periwinkle
(Vinca minor) is not the best choice - it prefers some shade,
especially from the hot afternoon sun.
Periwinkle covers this hillside
Also, since you are not incorporating
organic matter or preparing the soil to any degree, it is important
to choose tough plants that do not mind less-than-ideal soil
conditions. Although you certainly do not want anything tall that
would block your line of sight pulling out of the driveway, ground
cover plants do not have to hug the ground. Many perennial flowers
can act as a ground cover, with the added bonus of flowers through
the growing season.
Evergreen and semi-evergreen plants are
marked with an * in the following list. Although these are tough
plants, they will not tolerate poorly drained soil. After the list I
have included a bibliography of suggested references so that you can
read more about these plants, their ultimate size, and see pictures
of them before making your final selections.
- Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina glauca)*
- Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) - especially
smaller re-blooming varieties such as 'Happy Returns' or 'Rosy
- 'Nikko' Slender Deutzia (Deutzia Gracilis
- Ground Cover Junipers (Juniperus
horizontalis, Juniperus procumbens 'Nana')*
- Lily Turf (Liriope muscari)*
- Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)*
- 'Gro-low' Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica
- 'Green Mound' Alpine Currant (Ribes alpinum
- Sedum (Sedum spp. & cultivars, especially
'Vera Jamison,' Sedum spurium Sedum repestre 'Angelina'*)
- Japanese spirea (Spirea japonica 'Little
Princess' or 'Magic Carpet')
- 'Crispa' Cutleaf Stephanandra (Stephanandra
- Spreading English Yew (Taxus baccata 'Repandens')*
Armitage, Allen M., Armitage¹s Garden
Perennials, Timber Press, 2000. ISBN-10: 0881924350.
Clausen, Ruth and Nicolas Ekstrom,
Perennials for American Gardens, Random House, 1989. ISBN-10:
Darke, Rick, The Color Encyclopedia of
Ornamental Grasses, Timber Press, 1999.ISBN-10: 0881924644.
Michener, David C. and Nan Sinton, Taylor's
Guide to Ground Covers, Houghton Mifflin, 2001. ISBN-10: 0618030107.
Fisher, Kathleen, Taylor's Guide to Shrubs,
Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN-10: 0618004378.
Dirr, Michael A., Manual of Woody Landscape
Plants, Stipes Publishing, ISBN-10: 875638007