In many California housing developments, roads are created on hillsides and pads bulldozed off for houses. Then the problem becomes how to cover steep banks with plants to hold the soil. In some case banks are steep and extensive. Ground covers often are not sufficient to hold the soil through heavy rains. What is needed is a mix of groundcovers cloaking the ground and deeper-rooted shrubs and trees to grip deeply into the subsoil. Here is a list of possible choices that was created by us for a housing scheme where the landscape was 30 years old and needed replanting with better replacements for plants and more drought-resistant plant choices than those planted by the developer.
Very Low Shrubs: (Up to 3 feet tall, not higher than 4 feet.)
Use these as fillers on banks or at the tops of banks.
(Sensitive to frost, but if you place these high on banks they should be in a frost-drained site, thus safe from frost.)
- Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis ‘Little John’) 3 feet tall and wide. Very colorful waves of flowers fall, winter and spring, on superior dwarf bottlebrush with weeping habit.
- Dwarf New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium ‘Nanum Ruru’): 2 feet tall and wide. Dense growth. Dark-pink single flowers in winter, spring, into summer.
- Dwarf New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium ‘Pink Cascade’): 1 foot tall and 3-to 4-feet wide. Single pink flowers, sprawling, weeping, cascading growth.
- Dwarf Pohutukawa (Metrosideros villosa ‘Tahiti’) (to 3-feet tall and wide): No pruning needed. Gray-green leaves and clusters of orange-red flowers in spring, with sporadic rebloom. (Sensitive to frost, but high on banks should be a frost-drained site.)
- Groundcover New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium ‘Horizontalis’): 3 to 4-feet tall, 12 feet wide. Profuse show of white blossoms on drooping branchlets, spreading plant, makes good bank cover.
- Groundcover New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium ‘Snow White’): 2 to 4-feet tall, 4 to 5-feet wide. Double white flowers with green centers on compact, spreading plant
- Shrubby New Zealand Christmas Tree (Metrosideros collina ‘Fiji’): is even smaller, just 2 feet tall and wide. Available from Monrovia Nursery. Red powder-puff flowers, winter and spring, bring butterflies.
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