Hillside – Erosion Control

Q: I need something to keep a very steep hillside from eroding and I thought of the grass that GDOT plants along the roadsides. It seems to be drought tolerant and low maintenance. Any idea what it might be?

A: Much depends on how much slope you have. For a steep slope of more than 1:1 (run to rise) your only choice is to use a block or timber wall to hold back the soil. Plants will not suffice. If the slope is 2:1, vigorous shrubs like groundcover juniper or a mixture of Virginia sweetspire and purple muhly grass could succeed if the site is in full sun. The Georgia Department of Transportation has sometimes used weeping love grass and/or Chinese lespedeza to stabilize a steep slope. However, both can be invasive and I do not recommend them. A landscape architect is trained to assess slopes and to recommend strategies. I think you’d get better results in a shorter time by hiring one to visit your site for a consult.