The San Francisco Bay Area has all sorts of terrain types from the San Jose valleys to the Los Altos hills. For those who live on hillsides, a common issue that arises with steep slopes is erosion, the weakening of the soil structure most typically from wind or water. Erosion can lead to bigger issues such as landslides if not properly addressed. A simple solution to address most erosion issues is to add deep rooting plants! But be careful of which plants you select because you have to take into consideration many factors including the water needs (remember, water causes erosion).  The most suitable erosion control plants are typically California natives who are drought tolerant, have deep roots and are low maintenance. Here are some of our best erosion control plants:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Radiant’: Bearberry, KinnikinnikWith dense carpet like foliage,  manzanita is a useful ground cover, on slopes or trailing over walls. This Northern California native is extremely drought tolerant needing occasional water in extreme heat.
Ceanothus griseus horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’: California Lilac ‘Yankee Point’It has large bright green leaves and light blue flowers. It is great for banks and mass plantings. It does well on the coast and in hot inland areas. It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects. It also is a weed smothering groundcover for full sun to light shade and drought tolerant.
Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum: California BuckwheatThis evergreen has profuse clusters of white flowers in summer. Likes full sun and prefers good drainage. Its a native from Monterey County southward. An excellent honey plant and its deep tap root is effective in preventing erosion.
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Huntington Carpet’: Huntington Carpet RosemaryAn evergreen carpet of deep blue flowers backed by fragrant foliage forms an attractive spreading groundcover that is enjoyed by bees and butterflies. While not a native, it makes  a great spiller over retaining walls and is an edible herb.
Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’: SageThis native California shrub grows low to the ground, never exceeding 2-3 feet, and can reach 6 to 8 feet wide. It has an extended bloom with whorls of lavender-blue flowers. Makes a great groundcover on slopes where color is desired. This plant is drought tolerant requiring sparse watering.

As with any severe slope or erosion issue, please consult your soils engineer before making final plant selections.