Hi, I live in Zone 5 at 7,500' elevation in Colorado. I have a steep slope (~45 degrees) that I finally got a road cut into it with an excavator for terraces. The road is wide enough to drive a truck on it although the intention is to best utilize the space for permaculture, food forest, and gardening.
I know this is right up Sepp Holzer's wheelhouse but I have young kids, a career, and many projects and obligations that are keeping me very overloaded. I can't seem to find any definitive advice as to where I should be planting trees vs plants on this slope. I am concerned about erosion although we don't get much rain. The soil has many large boulders in it and the excavator isn't 'too' worried about it. I'm placed many boulders on the lower side embankments.
I have seeded some embankments with white clover and prairie grass. I plan to do the rest. Next spring I plan to heavily seed again--we don't get much rain over the summer so I'm afraid I missed my window this season. I will also seed with native wildflowers and various annual and perennials that I can use for food, medicine, or just for beauty, I currently have a ton of young plants of comfrey, columbine, and yarrow plants I would like to place. And I'd like to place Serviceberry, Cherry, Plum, and anything else that you may suggest (Goji Berry, Paw Paw, Goumi...?). I
I'm sorry if this is all readily available here, I just really need help because I don't have a lot of time. Thank you
Well I can't tell you where exactly to put trees, but I will recommend some since I am also in Colorado at 6300 ft, 16" precipitation, and 5b. I had good luck with nanking cherry and buffalo berry (nitrogen fixer) and after two years those bush/trees have an 85% survival rate (note: planted in swales). Another good nitrogen fixer for high altitude is mountain mahogany and curl leaf mahogany. This thing grows naturally on my property. They grow slowly, but resprout easily from pruning and (according to the USDA) only need 9 inches of rain per year. So if you can't water an area, they should be the go-to plant to pioneer a bare area. Also, pinyon pine may be an option for providing a protein source with their pine nuts, but again they grow slowly.
Here's my complete tree list.
Nitrogen fixers: Russian olive (I know it's illegal - don't care), buffalo berry, apache plume, mountain mahogany, siberian pea shrub, silverberry, northern catalpa, black locust, new mexico locust, honey locust (caveat - needs 20" of precipitation)
Overstory: Siberian elm, pinyon pine, ponderosa pine, hackberry, chokecherry.
Dwarfs: nanking cherry, american plum, serviceberry, beaked hazelnut, cerro hawthorn.
Shrubs: Golden and wax currants, trumpet gooseberry, new mexico privet, sand cherry, russian almond, goji berry,
@Skyler — Thank you for such a detailed post! I really appreciate you listing all your suggested plants for this climate! Do you have any larger fruit trees like plums, peaches, apples or anything else?
The post before yours mentioned Sepp Holzer planting on the slopes between terraces. This is pretty much the opposite of a swale which with our low precipitation could be problematic. Although this slope is north facing so I’m hoping I can get away with it.
Last month was brutal hot but June can be that way. Do you recommend clover as a ground cover, or anything else?
@Anne - Thanks. I don’t have too many large boulders. I guess I’ve never tackled a project like this and wondered what tips people may have for selecting what goes where and with what (guilds)
@Nancy - thanks, I thought Sepp was a master with terraces. I hope to find more details on his planting trees on the slopes.
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