The 10 Best Plants for Erosion Control in Your Yard

Are you struggling with erosion in your yard? There are many plants available to help with this issue. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares 10 of the best widely available plants for erosion control in your yard.

White flowers of Pachysandra terminalis with multiple layers of petals basking in the soft rays of the sun. The vibrant white hues of the flowers stand out against the backdrop of green leaves.


If you have slopes in your garden, you have likely dealt with erosion. It can happen for a number of reasons. Rain can carry topsoil away, but so can wind and daily gardening practices such as raking or leaf blowing. Fortunately, plants can be an effective partner in erosion control methods.

Erosion can be frustrating, and it can cause quite a mess. It can strike on naturally occurring slopes in our yard, alongside our driveways, and even at the bottom of our downspouts. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent or stop erosion from happening in our yards. 

In this article, I have listed ten plants that can help control erosion in our yards. Some of the features that make these plants excellent at erosion control also contribute to their fast spread. Make sure to check if a species is invasive in your area before planting. These plants are common and easy to find at garden centers. Let’s dig in!


Numerous bugleweed flowers bathe in the warm sunlight, their slender stems reaching upward toward the sky. The delicate petals unfurl and proudly display their vibrant purple hue, creating a striking contrast against the lush green leaves below them.
This plant spreads fast and displays purple flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Ajuga reptans
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade 
height height 6-9 inches 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Bugleweed is a very useful ground cover for controlling erosion. This plant has the tendency to grow like a weed, spreading quickly throughout large areas with the help of runners. If you are looking to control a smaller area, this isn’t the best choice for you. Bugleweed may also be invasive in your area, so do some homework before purchasing and planting it. 

Bugleweed is an attractive plant that produces deep-green, low-growing foliage for most of the summer but will take on a shade of bronze or purple in the fall. The flowers on bugleweed are short and spiked, typically found in a bright shade of purple. 

This perennial is very low-maintenance. Grow in soil that is moist but well-draining. If the soil is too wet or the plants are growing too closely together, you may run into issues with crown rot. Don’t bother deadheading. Just grab your lawn mower and mow right over the plant when the flowers have finished blooming. 

Climbing Hydrangea 

A cluster of white climbing hydrangea blossoms, their petals forming a delicate bouquet that seems to stretch towards the heavens, basking in the gentle sunlight. Surrounding these elegant blooms are vibrant green leaves, their textured surfaces providing a lush backdrop.
Climbing hydrangeas thrive under trees or on slopes, featuring heart-shaped leaves and lace cap flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea anomala 
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to shade 
height height 30-40 feet 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

When you think of a climbing hydrangea, you might envision arbors covered in blossoms or vines climbing up a chimney of fence. While these are beautiful options for this plant, climbing hydrangeas are also excellent choices for ground cover. The stems that make contact with the ground will produce roots, helping to keep soil in place

Climbing hydrangeas will grow very nicely under trees or on a slope. The vines have green heart-shaped leaves, while the flowers are more of the lace cap variety as opposed to a mophead blossom. Depending on what variety you choose, you may be in store for some colorful fall foliage

Since we are just talking about growing climbing hydrangea as a groundcover here, we can refer to this plant as spectacularly low maintenance. You do not need to worry about supporting the heavy vines. You can just let them crawl freely. Hydrangeas do best in moist but well-drained soil, which will help prevent any fungal issues. 

Creeping Cotoneaster

White creeping cotoneaster flowers shine brightly under the sun, their tiny petals delicate and pure. The thick and glossy leaves of the plant glisten with the reflection of light, creating a stunning display of nature's beauty.
This is a soil-stabilizing shrub with wide growth and seasonal color changes.
botanical-name botanical name Cotoneaster adpressus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6 inches to 1 foot 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Creeping cotoneaster produces large, tough roots that are excellent for holding soil in place. This shrub can creep up to 6 feet wide, making it a great choice for large sloping areas. 

Creeping cotoneaster has small evergreen leaves that are deep green throughout most of the season, turning red or purple in the fall. In the springtime, cotoneaster will produce small white flowers with a hint of pink, which will be replaced by jewel-toned red berries that last into the winter. 

Once your creeping cotoneaster is established in your garden, it will be drought tolerant. Until then, keep the soil moist but not too wet. As this low-growing shrub begins to creep and crawl, you can let it run wild, but if you prefer a more manicured look, just prune back branches as needed. 

Creeping Juniper

A creeping juniper, its emerald leaves stretching outwards. The sun's golden rays caress the plant's foliage. The contrasting colors of the green leaves and the deep brown mulch around them create a visually pleasing composition.
Creeping juniper is a low-maintenance evergreen suitable for hillside landscaping.
botanical-name botanical name Juniperus horizontalis 
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun 
height height 6 inches to 2 feet 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Creeping juniper is a low-maintenance evergreen that can spread up to 20 feet wide. It is a beautiful addition to a hillside. Creeping junipers grow quickly and have rigorous root systems that help to keep your soil in place. You may choose to fill a hillside with just junipers, or you can interplant with other ornamentals. 

Creeping juniper has short blue-green needles which cover the sprawling branches of the shrub. On female plants, you will notice dark blue cones clinging to the branches through the winter. Over the winter, the needles will remain on the shrub, keeping your garden looking fresh and lush. The blue-green needles will take on a purplish tint. 

If you have planted your creeping juniper in full sun, you are off to a good start. These shrubs grow best in well-draining soil but are tolerant of different types of soil. Fertilizer is not needed, and you can skip the pruning as well. This plant is the definition of low maintenance. 

Groundcover Roses

Vibrant red roses and their lush green foliage basking in the warm sunlight. In the background, blurred white flowers can be seen, also enjoying the gentle rays of the sun.
These roses effectively prevent soil erosion on slopes and hills.
botanical-name botanical name Rosa spp. 
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun 
height height 1-2 feet 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-11

Oftentimes, when we think of roses, we think of their beauty and sometimes their difficulty. But ground cover roses are the perfect solution for erosion control in an area you want to keep beautiful. Groundcover roses creep and crawl low to the ground, keeping soil in place. These roses grow beautifully on hills and slopes. 

There are many different varieties to choose from in many different colors, making it very easy for you to choose a variety that suits your home and garden. Groundcover rose shrubs produce dense growth loaded with dark green glossy leaves and a lot of buds. If grown in the right conditions, groundcover roses can be covered in flowers in the summer months. 

Roses need full sun for them to grow best. This means at least 5 hours of direct sunlight, with 8 hours being more optimal. Grow your roses in soil that is fertile and moist but well-draining. In the late winter or early spring, cut your roses back by ⅓. 

Interrupted Fern

Interrupted ferns thrive under the warm sun. Each frond exhibits a unique, delicate symmetry, with finely serrated edges and a rich, emerald hue that shimmers as it catches the dappled sunlight.
These are great for garden erosion control due to their rhizomes.
botanical-name botanical name Osmundia claytoniana 
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade 
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Ferns make such a fun and interesting addition to any garden. When it comes to erosion control, these ancient plants come in handy due to their rhizomes. Rhizomes are essentially underground stems that aid in the spreading of the plant. These rhizomes work wonders for retaining soil

The interrupted fern produces fronds in a beautiful upright vase shape. The bright green fronds grow in clumps. In the center of these clumps, you will find brown leaflets which produce spores. When these leaflets drop in the summer, the spores will self-propagate and aid in producing more ferns for you.   Interrupted fern tolerates many soil types but grows best in rich, moist, well-draining soils. 

Interrupted fern is very low maintenance. For the best results, apply even moisture to your ferns. If you notice broken or damaged ferns, simply snip them away at any point in the season. 


A beautiful purple lilyturf stands alone, its petals contrast against a backdrop of vibrant green leaves. The flower stands tall, supported by its slender purple stem as if reaching for the sunlight.
Lilyturf spreads rapidly via tuberous roots and is ideal for planting under shallow-rooted trees.
botanical-name botanical name Liriope muscari
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade 
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Lilyturf is useful for erosion control because it grows nicely where other plants may not. This perennial will spread through tuberous roots and multiply quickly, helping you with erosion troubles. Dwarf Lilyturf is a great choice to plant under shallow-rooted trees. 

As the name might have you guessing, the foliage of lilyturf does indeed look like grass blades. They are deep green, long, and slender, creating a beautiful fountain-like appearance. The flowers are made up of spikes of purple or white flowers. 

In the spring, haul out your lawn mower and mow right over the leaves of your lilyturf. This will help to encourage new growth. Lilyturf is tolerant of full shade but grows best in partial shade. This perennial will grow best in moist but well-draining soil. Protect it from cold winds. 

Japanese Spurge

Delicate, white Japanese spurge flowers gracefully emerge from a sea of vibrant, green foliage. These petite blooms, with slightly tubular shapes, gather together in tightly clustered arrangements, creating a picturesque scene of natural beauty in any garden.
This plant is a fast-spreading groundcover suitable for erosion control in shady gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Pachysandra terminalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade to shade
height height 3-4 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Pachysandra, also known by its common name of Japanese Spurge, is a classic and elegant garden plant. Typically sold in flats at your garden center, pachysandra spreads quickly, filling an area in about three growing seasons. This is the quality that makes it an excellent choice for controlling erosion in shady areas of your garden.

There are areas of the United States that discourage the planting of Japanese Spurge because of its potential invasiveness. Check if this perennial is invasive in your area before planting. If it is invasive in your area, you may want to choose another plant or, at the very least, be prepared to do some work pruning and removing new plants as it spreads. 

Pachysandra is an evergreen groundcover that spreads through runners. The leaves are emerald green and lush. In the springtime, Japanese Spurge produces inconspicuous white flowers. 

This plant is very easy to grow. Plant your small plants about 6 inches apart from each other, and water throughout the first growing season. The plant will begin to spread in the next season without any assistance from you. Japanese Spurge does not have any trouble with pests or diseases and is drought-tolerant once established. 


Periwinkle flowers gracefully sway on their slender green stems, basking in the soft sunlight of a tranquil garden. Each periwinkle bloom boasts five delicate petals, forming a symphony of lavender hues that contrast beautifully against the vibrant green foliage.
Periwinkle, with its purple or white flowers, is an efficient erosion control.
botanical-name botanical name Vinca minor 
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to shade 
height height 4-6 inches 
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Lesser periwinkle, or vinca minor, is a pretty ground cover that is excellent for erosion control. Once this plant grows, it will form an attractive mat of foliage, which helps to keep soil from running off. Periwinkle is a great choice for sloped areas, the side of a driveway or walkway, or on a woodland edge. 

Lesser periwinkle is a perennial plant. The vines and leaves intertwine together to cover a large area in a quick amount of time. In the spring, you will see sweet purple or white flowers popping up throughout the plant, adding a bit of charm to your gardens and inviting pollinators. 

Periwinkle is a plant-it-and-forget-it plant. It’s tolerant of many different soil types just so long as it is well-draining. Feel free to snip any vines growing in a way you dislike. This pruning is not required, however. You can truly leave this plant alone and watch it grow. 

Virginia Creeper

A wall adorned with the flowing tendrils of red Virginia creeper, creating a captivating display of nature's beauty. The lush foliage weaves its way across the surface, infusing the surroundings with a burst of color and life.
This is an effective erosion control vine with rapid spreading capabilities.
botanical-name botanical name Parthenocissus quinquefolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to shade 
height height 30-50 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-11

Virginia creeper is a close relative to Boston ivy and displays a similar growing habit. You may often see this vine growing up the side of buildings, but it is very useful for controlling erosion. It will spread quickly, making it a great choice for controlling erosion in large areas

Virginia creeper is a creeping vine plant. It adheres to surfaces such as rocks, fences, or buildings using fastening disks. But for the purpose of erosion control, this vine will spread by underground rhizomes. The leaves are clustered together in groups of five, giving it its classic “ivy” appearance. In the fall, your Virginia creeper will explode with an amazing orange fall color. 

Virginia creeper is a valuable plant for wildlife, but grow it with caution. It is excellent at controlling erosion but is a quick-growing plant that can take over an area quickly. When you first plant your Virginia creeper, you will need to water it regularly until it is established. After it is established, it will become drought-tolerant. Because of this plant’s spreading abilities, it can quickly deprive your soil of nutrients. Add an organic fertilizer yearly to keep your vine looking healthy. Prune back as necessary. 

Final Thoughts

Any of the plants listed above will aid in your need to control erosion. Choose a plant that works best for your zone and also for your garden. Problem fixing should be beautiful as well as functional. Choose one of the above plants or more than one for a fun combination. Be patient, and grow well!