broomsedge grass

Broomsedge bluestem (Andropogon virginicus). Photo: John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University,

Updated: August 9, 2023

Historically, alien plant species with the following attributes were used for the purpose of slope stabilization:

  • aggressive, spreading behavior
  • deer resistance
  • quick germination and growth
  • winter presence

Many of these species are now regarded as invasive plants. A more modern and ecologically sound approach is to use native plants that have some of these attributes.

Sunny sites are brutal during hot, dry summer weather. Dryness is amplified by the quick drainage found on steep slopes. Any rain that falls doesn't stay for long. Some native plants perform well in these environments. Here are our favorite plants for sunny slopes.

Slopes and Deer - Steep slopes present an opportunity to use native plants that are vulnerable to deer. Deer are browsing and grazing many of our native plant species into oblivion, but they cannot risk a twisted or broken ankle, so they avoid slopes. You can see the result in natural areas, where vulnerable species like azaleas and mountain laurels are no longer found except on slopes.

Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus)

Additional resources

Your local native plant vendor can recommend even more great native plants to help you with your slope planting project! They will want to know the specifics of your site, such as soil texture, pH, and moisture. If you live in Maryland's mountain counties, your vendor will also need to know your slope's aspect and soil depth.

You can get more information about preventing soil erosion from your local Soil & Water Conservation District.

By Dr. Sara Tangren, former Sr. Agent Associate, University of Maryland Extension, Home & Garden Information Center.

Still have a question? Contact us at Ask Extension.