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I am located in central PA. I have steep banks on each side of my driveway that have a lot of bare spots. The tallest is about 20 feet high. The driveway itself faces south so both banks get a good dose of direct sun throughout the day. I am looking for recommendations for what I can get to "spread" on the bank surface that will take hold and provide cover for the big bare spots. Crawling up on the bank and "planting" anything is out of the question as the soil is rather loose and easily eroded. I need something that will take hold just from being tossed or spread on the surface of the bank. I would also prefer something that is pretty much self maintaining that won't require cutting or trimming and that is friendly and won't eventually expand and encapsulate the house. :)

Below are two photos to give you some idea of the slope and existing growth.

Thanks!

IMG_2146a.jpg

IMG_2147a.jpg
 

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:munch:

I would love to do something similar along my ditch lines. Too steep to mow and a massive PIA to trim constantly.
 

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Crown Vetch by far is the best for banks like that. Look along our Pennsylvania highways and that’s all you will see on the banks that are not mowed.

It will creep and take over any other vegetation elimnating any weeds. It is zero maintenance and looks very nice. It has a very good root system which holds banks very well.

Take a look at this Penn State document under “Formula C” - you will see how they recomend it for unmowed banks.

http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/projects/vegetative-management/publications/roadside-vegetative-mangement-factsheets/7roadside-groundcover

https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_cova2.pdf

Edit to add: we planted this stuff all the time by just thowing the seed mix and covering with a layer of mulch hay.
 

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I would try a Juniper, several of them will eventually creep and spread to cover the entire bank. Just make sure it is a creeping juniper, there are several different types of juniper.
 

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Crown Vetch by far is the best for banks like that. Look along our Pennsylvania highways and that’s all you will see on the banks that are not mowed.

It will creep and take over any other vegetation elimnating any weeds. It is zero maintenance and looks very nice. It has a very good root system which holds banks very well.

Take a look at this Penn State document under “Formula C” - you will see how they recomend it for unmowed banks.

Edit to add: we planted this stuff all the time by just throwing the seed mix and covering with a layer of mulch hay.
Where do you buy Crown Vetch "formula C"? Will I find a bag of seeds at the local big box store or lawn and garden store?

Can I cover it with straw instead?
 

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Where do you buy Crown Vetch "formula C"? Will I find a bag of seeds at the local big box store or lawn and garden store?

Can I cover it with straw instead?
You’ll have to cover it with something and straw would be best IMO. I would also kill the entire bank with round up two weeks before seeding or when grass on the bank comes back to life it will choke out whatever seed you put on. Plus the straw might help all the seed from ending up at the bottom after the first hard rain.
 

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"The common periwinkle plant (Vinca minor) is often spotted creeping down steep hillsides and banks, offering a green and growing affect in areas which might otherwise be bare. The periwinkle plant is exceptional as an erosion control specimen. Periwinkle is also used as a spreading shrub in USDA garden zones 4 to 8. Periwinkle is often also called creeping vinca.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Periwinkle Care – How To Grow Periwinkle Plants https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/groundcover/periwinkle/growing-periwinkle.htm"

We have periwinkle in several locations,,,:good2:
 

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Crown Vetch by far is the best for banks like that. Look along our Pennsylvania highways and that’s all you will see on the banks that are not mowed.

It will creep and take over any other vegetation elimnating any weeds. It is zero maintenance and looks very nice. It has a very good root system which holds banks very well.

Take a look at this Penn State document under “Formula C” - you will see how they recomend it for unmowed banks.

http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/projects/vegetative-management/publications/roadside-vegetative-mangement-factsheets/7roadside-groundcover

https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_cova2.pdf

Edit to add: we planted this stuff all the time by just thowing the seed mix and covering with a layer of mulch hay.
This would be my recommendation as well. Contact your local ag extension office and they can probably give you a list of suppliers.

We have this in a bank by the old house. It’s impossible to get rid of.
 

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Where do you buy Crown Vetch "formula C"? Will I find a bag of seeds at the local big box store or lawn and garden store?

Can I cover it with straw instead?
I would just make up my own mix - it’s just annual ryegrass and crown vetch. Just do a 50/50 mix.

When I was doing landscaping a local nursery and feed supplier had special Penn State grass seed which was awesome. But for that “formula C” it’s nothing special to Penn State.

As said above - straw is even better being it won’t have any seed in it. Spread the seed, spread the straw, and soak it. If you can water it every day for 10 days - a good soaking. Keeping it wet will also help the straw to stay put which makes the seed stay put.

If you can’t water it it will still germinate just will take a bit longer. Try to plant in the spring if you can’t water it.
 

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If you want grass. . . .

Nothing against the crown vetch or periwinkle but if you want a grass look you could try zoysia or bermuda grass. I'm not sure how it does that far north but once established both will hold soil and grow low enough to not really need mowing. Spray it once a years for broad leaf weeds and it will last as long as you do.

Lots of options, it just depends on what look you want and how much trouble you want to go to. Some people just use a mulch or rock over filter cloth on a bank like that.

Treefarmer
 

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Nothing against the crown vetch or periwinkle but if you want a grass look you could try zoysia or bermuda grass. I'm not sure how it does that far north but once established both will hold soil and grow low enough to not really need mowing. Spray it once a years for broad leaf weeds and it will last as long as you do.

Lots of options, it just depends on what look you want and how much trouble you want to go to. Some people just use a mulch or rock over filter cloth on a bank like that.

Treefarmer
We are in zone 7 which isn’t condusive for those varieties.

A nice chart here with grasses and what zones they work in -

Lawn Grass Planting Climate Zone Maps For Choosing Type of Grass
 

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"The common periwinkle plant (Vinca minor) is often spotted creeping down steep hillsides and banks, offering a green and growing affect in areas which might otherwise be bare. The periwinkle plant is exceptional as an erosion control specimen. Periwinkle is also used as a spreading shrub in USDA garden zones 4 to 8. Periwinkle is often also called creeping vinca.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Periwinkle Care – How To Grow Periwinkle Plants https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/groundcover/periwinkle/growing-periwinkle.htm"

We have periwinkle in several locations,,,:good2:
I’d also recommend Vinca minor, it’s evergreen so regardless of season it will protect your slopes and stay put. I’d avoid crown vetch in any form. It’s difficult to control it spread, invasive, and seasonal...
 

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I've got a crappy hillside that my wife constantly reminds me of. Last year I planted $200 worth of cotoneaster and potting soil. They all died. I must have really horrible dirt. It was a bit hot, and I did only water them in the mornings. I may try the periwinkle.

Here's the hillside. It continues to the right and gets bigger. The previous owners put mulch all over it to cover it up. My wife wants me to do that for some visitors coming at the end of the month. I told her I'm not wasting my time and money on mulch.

 

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I've got a crappy hillside that my wife constantly reminds me of. Last year I planted $200 worth of cotoneaster and potting soil. They all died. I must have really horrible dirt. It was a bit hot, and I did only water them in the mornings. I may try the periwinkle.

Here's the hillside. It continues to the right and gets bigger. The previous owners put mulch all over it to cover it up. My wife wants me to do that for some visitors coming at the end of the month. I told her I'm not wasting my time and money on mulch.
Before I would do anything else I would test that soil for pH. Years of that mulch laying there might have made the soil too acidic. Nothing is going to grow properly. Once you get the pH go to a reputable nursery and explain what you want to do. I’m sure they can help you out.
 

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I've got a crappy hillside that my wife constantly reminds me of. Last year I planted $200 worth of cotoneaster and potting soil. They all died. I must have really horrible dirt. It was a bit hot, and I did only water them in the mornings. I may try the periwinkle.

Here's the hillside. It continues to the right and gets bigger. The previous owners put mulch all over it to cover it up. My wife wants me to do that for some visitors coming at the end of the month. I told her I'm not wasting my time and money on mulch.

That looks like a prime area for a retaining wall and fill
 

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I am located in central PA. I have steep banks on each side of my driveway that have a lot of bare spots. The tallest is about 20 feet high. The driveway itself faces south so both banks get a good dose of direct sun throughout the day. I am looking for recommendations for what I can get to "spread" on the bank surface that will take hold and provide cover for the big bare spots. Crawling up on the bank and "planting" anything is out of the question as the soil is rather loose and easily eroded. I need something that will take hold just from being tossed or spread on the surface of the bank. I would also prefer something that is pretty much self maintaining that won't require cutting or trimming and that is friendly and won't eventually expand and encapsulate the house. :)

Below are two photos to give you some idea of the slope and existing growth.

Thanks!

View attachment 567849

View attachment 567857
What ever you decide to go with I would recommend hydroseeding followed by an erosion controle blanket, otherwise the seed will wash.
 

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Crown Vetch by far is the best for banks like that. Look along our Pennsylvania highways and that’s all you will see on the banks that are not mowed.

It will creep and take over any other vegetation elimnating any weeds. It is zero maintenance and looks very nice. It has a very good root system which holds banks very well.

Take a look at this Penn State document under “Formula C” - you will see how they recomend it for unmowed banks.

http://plantscience.psu.edu/research/projects/vegetative-management/publications/roadside-vegetative-mangement-factsheets/7roadside-groundcover

https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_cova2.pdf

Edit to add: we planted this stuff all the time by just thowing the seed mix and covering with a layer of mulch hay.
One small caveat to using crown vetch - it is a beautiful ground cover, eventually it will have a deep green mat with almost white to purple flowers. The down side is that it really does not stabilize the soil, under the mat, the soil will erode leaving gullies running down the slope.

I would look at a hydro seeding a short sod grass covered with a blanket.
 

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I've got a crappy hillside that my wife constantly reminds me of.
I told her I'm not wasting my time and money on mulch.
Rather than mulch, have you considered stone?
Pretty round stone is barely a few dollars more per yard than mulch,,
it requires labor to install, but, you have the loader.

I put the stone over landscape fabric,, it is still perfect over a decade later.



Considering how little it costs, I wish I had the get-up-and-go to do more stone landscaping.

The big plus is that stone does not promote termites like mulch

If you get big stone, like over 1 1/2", it is easy to blow the leaves away, without moving the stone.
 

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I think rip rap will work the best on my ditches. The soil, I mean clay, is absolutely terrible. Can’t get anything to take root and it’s slick when wet, ridiculously hard when dry, easily erodes, and sticky as all get out when damp. Yup, rock may be the best solution....
 
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