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After a three year search, my wife and I have found and purchased a home, perched on a knoll and backed by a 3/4 acre sloping lot. The lot has been ignored by previous owners. There are several beautiful oaks, some bay trees, and lots of foxtails. It is covered with California concrete (hard packed clay). I have many, many ideas for transforming this sparse and neglected hillside and plan to solicit advice from this group on recovering the lot, however the first necessity is access; specifically for hand-operated machinery (I need to dig swales and trenches for Hugelkultur) and a golf cart (poor man's tractor).

The hillside is separated from the house by a 20 to 30 foot high, 2:1 slope. The only access now is a poorly laid set of brick steps that climb steeply up the lowest section of the slope. I plan to build a pathway that traverses the slope, perhaps fifty feet in length. I think I can place it such that the grade would be about 18%. I have spoken with several contractors, most of whom want to bring in excavators, rip up the slope and pave the pathway ("only way to make it stable"). I'm reminded of the saying, "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

A friend introduced me to someone who can do the job with men and shovels but he wants to line the path with cement pavers. I much prefer a more natural approach. I've found some products for creating grass driveways and thought I might be able to fill them with a ground cover other than grass.

Long winded, I know. Sorry. Essentially I'm looking for ideas here. How to build a pathway following an 18% grade that will support a golf cart and won't wash out in our wet northern California winters.

Thanks ahead.

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