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Al Loria
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Location: New York
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Hello all,

I am new to this forum and have been only in the lawn threads.  I have a problem with a slope in our back yard.  I had posted this (below) in the lawn section and Paul suggested I ask the same over here.

As an update, today I purchased Serviceberry, Blackhaw, Chokeberry and Blueberry to start off with.  We finished planting the 9 bushes on the slope and there is room for more.  I Wanted your input on what else I could add and what, if any, ground cover should I use.  Any help would be appreciated as I am new to organic/permaculture.  I believe we will use our small lot, now that our kids have grown, to provide food and habitat for the local birds and creatures and this looks like a perfect place to start.

Thanks,
Al

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Here is the original post.
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Don't know if this is the right place on the forum to post this, but it does involve the part of the property where the lawn now ends.

I am off to the nursery to look today and wanted to know any thoughts on what kind of grass, plants, berry bushes, shrubs and so forth should be planted on a southern facing slope in zone 6 in New York.  This has to be an almost no maintenance project.

We have about 40 foot in length to work with and it is about 10 foot of steep slope. It is anchored at the top ends by two 40 year old Japanese Maples/Bloodgood which are starting to have exposed roots on the slope side. It has gotten steeper over the years.  I used to have grass on it and had the mower roll down the hill, fall down myself and gave up years ago and let the weeds fill it in.  Before the weeds, we tried Junipers and they didn't work.  Last year we cleared off half of it and tried English Ivy and that failed.  It is too hard to weed because of the steepness of the slope.  Last weekend we cut everything off of it including the Sumac trees that were about 5 feet tall.  We are looking to do a maintenance free area because it is really not visible from the house or back lawn.  We also need something that grows quickly and possibly has the ability to spread.

The bottom of the slope is level with about 5 feet to another drop off into the woods.  We think it would be a good idea to plant something for the birds and possibly the Deer in winter, but we do need to stabilize the slope as the back yard is small to begin with and we don't need the house falling off into it in 20 years.  Total lot size is a little over a quarter acre.


Thanks,
Al
 
Paul Cereghino
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Ive pounded stakes on contour, then brush laid crosswise upslope to create little terraces, then mulch the heck out of it, then plant.  Both the stakes and the brush can be cuttings that root.  Sorry - I don't know you climate or species.


 
Al Loria
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Location: New York
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Paul Cereghino wrote:
Ive pounded stakes on contour, then brush laid crosswise upslope to create little terraces, then mulch the heck out of it, then plant.  Both the stakes and the brush can be cuttings that root.  Sorry - I don't know you climate or species.





I like this idea.  Brilliant in its simplicity.  I am going to use this around the plants we have already placed and all the new ones to keep the slope's lower side soil from eroding off the front of the roots.

Thanks,
Al
 
Rob Sigg
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Im not sure if this will be helpful but you should be able to grow wintergreen(teaberry) , which will provide a ground cover and help to anchor things. Just give it shade.
 
Brenda Groth
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well i would likely put in things that quickly grow extensive root systems..one item i use here is daylliillies..they not only get huge root systems..but they are edible ..and beautiful..and you can divide them over and over and get more ..so that makes them fairly cheap..they won't get invasive and they won't rob from your trees..so you can plant them right up on top of the roots and then put some dirt around them and they should grab onto it and start holding it the first year.

berry bushes such as raspberries, and blackberries are great as well, but you have to be careful as they can be invasive..you really should edge the areas that you put them in if you can't mow around them..as you might not want them to spread too much.

a lot of shrubs have lateral roots that will fill in..and there are some old fashioned roses that grown on their own roots will send out long runners that will fill in..but they have thorns and also are invasive..lilacs send out roots.

what about hazelnuts

another thing that has spiderlike roots and isn't invasive is asparagus..

one ground cover that i have come to love in the past few years is the cranesbill geranium family..they have roots that are like ropes and they are beautiful and dont' get really tall..i have them everywhere here..and they don't tend to choke out the things planted int hem like some do.

if you want something quick and temp to hold while you are waiting on tthe other plants to grow..try some sweet corn..it has some reall good roots and will hold for the year..and if you leave the spent roots in the ground they'll hold a little longer..and you'll get some corn from them..
 
gary gregory
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Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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I'm curious why the slope is there.  Is it natural?  Is there a stream or river below it?    Why is it eroding?
 
Al Loria
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blitz1976 wrote:
Im not sure if this will be helpful but you should be able to grow wintergreen(teaberry) , which will provide a ground cover and help to anchor things. Just give it shade.


Any information I can get is helpful. I am going to investigate the Teaberry.

Thanks.
 
Al Loria
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Brenda Groth wrote:
well i would likely put in things that quickly grow extensive root systems..one item i use here is daylliillies..they not only get huge root systems..but they are edible ..and beautiful..and you can divide them over and over and get more ..so that makes them fairly cheap..they won't get invasive and they won't rob from your trees..so you can plant them right up on top of the roots and then put some dirt around them and they should grab onto it and start holding it the first year.

berry bushes such as raspberries, and blackberries are great as well, but you have to be careful as they can be invasive..you really should edge the areas that you put them in if you can't mow around them..as you might not want them to spread too much.

a lot of shrubs have lateral roots that will fill in..and there are some old fashioned roses that grown on their own roots will send out long runners that will fill in..but they have thorns and also are invasive..lilacs send out roots.

what about hazelnuts

another thing that has spiderlike roots and isn't invasive is asparagus..

one ground cover that i have come to love in the past few years is the cranesbill geranium family..they have roots that are like ropes and they are beautiful and dont' get really tall..i have them everywhere here..and they don't tend to choke out the things planted int hem like some do.

if you want something quick and temp to hold while you are waiting on tthe other plants to grow..try some sweet corn..it has some reall good roots and will hold for the year..and if you leave the spent roots in the ground they'll hold a little longer..and you'll get some corn from them..


Hi Brenda,

We have wild Raspberries that we thought was only growing in one small area.  It was all over the slope when we knocked down the weeds.  We left some of it to offer some binding to the stripped area.  They are invasive. This spring the runners, or suckers, are popping up through the lawn at the top a couple of feet from the edge.

Hazelnuts sound like it is something my wife might like.  I did see something about Geraniums and Asparagus.  I never thought of Asparagus as a ground cover.  Now the Day Lilies are a great idea.  My wife had thought of using those yesterday too.  We have plenty of Tiger Lilies on the property and they are used around here on the sides of sloping road edges.  They are hardy.

I have to do something that will take quickly, so over the weekend I will decide what to use.

Thanks for all the advice.

Al
 
Al Loria
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gary gregory wrote:
I'm curious why the slope is there.   Is it natural?   Is there a stream or river below it?    Why is it eroding?


Hi Gary,

The slope feature was the result of the installation of a sewer line when the town decided the septic systems were not working well in our development because of the poor drainage.  They screwed up and made the slope too steep by parking their equipment on the lawn, and cutting off the bottom of the slope in order to run the line to a connection on the main. In fact, at the top of the slope we hit the sewer line coming from our house just two inches below the surface while we were planting the shrubs yesterday.  A real sloppy job. This was done a few years before we bought the house, and the previous owner said it was not as bad before the sewer installation.  It has been the bane of my existence since we moved here.  Nothing had stopped the slow but constant erosion over the past 22 years and I had let the woods reclaim it somewhat as it was a piece of the property we could not use for anything else.  the only problem is that the only thing that grew were weeds and Sumac trees.  Now it will be useful for the birds, Deer, rabbits and other critters we have around here.  If I can get some solace out of seeing wildlife benefiting, then the property will have been put to good use.


Al
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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That might be worth a cordial visit to the town public works dept. head.  You might be able to get a couple loads of fill / topsoil and some heavy equipment assistance.  It doesn't hurt to ask them to help you fix them problem...
 
Al Loria
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Ardilla wrote:
That might be worth a cordial visit to the town public works dept. head.  You might be able to get a couple loads of fill / topsoil and some heavy equipment assistance.  It doesn't hurt to ask them to help you fix them problem...


Not a bad idea.  I don't know if they will own up to it after over 20 years of no complaints.  I can't figure out why the previous owners never had the town fix it in the first place.  It definitely had to take away at least a few feet of usable yard from them.

I may just do what you suggested, although now the new bushes would have to be removed temporarily and that may be more trouble than it is worth.  There also is a sewer clean-out that would have to be relocated if they were to add fill, so I am not so sure they would do that for gratis.

Our water heater blew last night so now we are dealing with that too.  Won't be replaced until at least Monday.  The joys of home ownership...

 
Ken Peavey
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Sounds like a steep hill and some severe erosion going on.  This is a problem that will need some serious effort and a serious plan.

Control the water source
You can't stop the rain, but you can stop the rain from flowing down the hill.  Gutters on the eaves of the house can divert the water.  A rainbarrel can store some of the water for later use.  An overflow drain at the top of the barrel can be directed to a hose or drain pipe to the bottom of the hill.  This will keep some of the water from flowing down the hill and give you some free irrigation water as a bonus.  Bigger and multiple barrels give you an advantage.

Stop the flow partway down
This calls for terraces.  The first terrace halfway down the hill slows up the flow, hopefully long enough for soil to settle out before it washes away.  It may be practical to build a slope on the terrace for the water to move to one side.  A small pond, say 5' wide, with a drain pipe can be installed to capture the water and redirect the flow.  Can be combined with the same pipe leading from the gutters.  More terraces is more work but gives you better control.

Absorb the water
NY soil is heavy and high in clay.  It will hold water, but it saturates quickly.  Once saturated, the water has no place to go but downhill.  Amending the soil with compost/organic material will increase its water absorbing and holding ability.  This also offers nutrient and tilth advantages for the plants growing on the slope.

Cover exposed soil
Exposed soil is the problem.  When rain hits bare soil, it stirs it up, putting the soil into suspension.  When the water flows, it takes the soil with it.  Build a compost heap.  Add a pile of leaves.  Lay down lots of hay.  Cover that bare soil with whatever you have available.  Plastic sheeting is not advisable, it lets the water pool up.  Pooled water can gather to a volume that can cause more erosion should it be allowed to flow suddenly.  Look for something that will absorb the impact of the rain and hold the water in place.

Deep rooted plants
With such a steep hill, you'll need plants that have a deep root system to help hold the soil in place.  Alfalfa can give you an emergency fix, and the birds will thank you.  the answer is in shrubs and especially trees. 

Replace what has been lost
Bring in topsoil, spread it around.  It would be wise to spread it thinly so as not to cover the existing plants and provide bare spots which will wash away with the next rain.

Putting it all together
This will take some time and effort, it is not a quick fix.  Start with covering exposed areas with some sort of mulch.  Spread some alfalfa seed to get that going.  The alfalfa should last for a couple of years.  This buys time for the hard work of building terraces and getting the big plants in place.  For the size of the area you describe, 4-5 terraces 8-10 feet wide would be about right.  Each terrace would be elevated 2-3 feet.  The width of the terraces is ideal for fruit trees.  At the leading edge of the terraces, consider more berry plants where they will get good sun and be easy to pick should you wish to make a pie.  An assortment of fruit and berries should offer plenty of food throughout the season and provide nesting spots for the birds.
 
rose macaskie
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The alfalfa that ken peavey talks of is a leguminous plant is not it? As well as fixing soil and feeding birds the alfa alfa will better the nitrogen in the soil.

One of Sepp Holzers complaints about pines is that they have shallow roots. That means that the whole wood can go down hill. Of course a little bank would not be the same as a Austrian hillside.  i don't have much information on which trees have tap or sinker roots or very long ones and which don't. agri rose macaskie.
 
Al Loria
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Ken Peavey wrote:
Sounds like a steep hill and some severe erosion going on.  This is a problem that will need some serious effort and a serious plan.

Control the water source
You can't stop the rain, but you can stop the rain from flowing down the hill.  Gutters on the eaves of the house can divert the water.  A rainbarrel can store some of the water for later use.  An overflow drain at the top of the barrel can be directed to a hose or drain pipe to the bottom of the hill.  This will keep some of the water from flowing down the hill and give you some free irrigation water as a bonus.  Bigger and multiple barrels give you an advantage.

Stop the flow partway down
This calls for terraces.  The first terrace halfway down the hill slows up the flow, hopefully long enough for soil to settle out before it washes away.  It may be practical to build a slope on the terrace for the water to move to one side.  A small pond, say 5' wide, with a drain pipe can be installed to capture the water and redirect the flow.  Can be combined with the same pipe leading from the gutters.  More terraces is more work but gives you better control.

Absorb the water
NY soil is heavy and high in clay.  It will hold water, but it saturates quickly.  Once saturated, the water has no place to go but downhill.  Amending the soil with compost/organic material will increase its water absorbing and holding ability.  This also offers nutrient and tilth advantages for the plants growing on the slope.

Cover exposed soil
Exposed soil is the problem.  When rain hits bare soil, it stirs it up, putting the soil into suspension.  When the water flows, it takes the soil with it.  Build a compost heap.  Add a pile of leaves.  Lay down lots of hay.  Cover that bare soil with whatever you have available.  Plastic sheeting is not advisable, it lets the water pool up.  Pooled water can gather to a volume that can cause more erosion should it be allowed to flow suddenly.  Look for something that will absorb the impact of the rain and hold the water in place.

Deep rooted plants
With such a steep hill, you'll need plants that have a deep root system to help hold the soil in place.  Alfalfa can give you an emergency fix, and the birds will thank you.  The answer is in shrubs and especially trees. 

Replace what has been lost
Bring in topsoil, spread it around.  It would be wise to spread it thinly so as not to cover the existing plants and provide bare spots which will wash away with the next rain.

Putting it all together
This will take some time and effort, it is not a quick fix.  Start with covering exposed areas with some sort of mulch.  Spread some alfalfa seed to get that going.  The alfalfa should last for a couple of years.  This buys time for the hard work of building terraces and getting the big plants in place.  For the size of the area you describe, 4-5 terraces 8-10 feet wide would be about right.  Each terrace would be elevated 2-3 feet.  The width of the terraces is ideal for fruit trees.  At the leading edge of the terraces, consider more berry plants where they will get good sun and be easy to pick should you wish to make a pie.  An assortment of fruit and berries should offer plenty of food throughout the season and provide nesting spots for the birds.



Thanks Ken.  Excellent answers to my problem.  I knew this wouldn't be an easy problem to solve, but one that would respond to the proper way of dealing with it.  Mostly, it has been a patch job for us that would be reborn every 5 years or so with the previous disaster being solved by letting it go to weed.  Having slashed everything to bare soil had almost necessitated another quick fix program which would have been doomed as all the others were.  This time I found this forum, and along with the good advice I now can start a long term plan with the short term fix you mentioned being used to stabilize the slope until the bushes and trees establish.  today my sons picked up a couple of fruit trees.  An Apple and a Cherry.  Both self pollinating.  A semi=dwarf Macintosh and a Tart Cherry which I can't remember the name of now.  the Cherry is so nice I may plant it in the middle the lawn above the slope.  Also they picked up a couple of yellow Raspberry that are less invasive than the red.

Tomorrow I am going to investigate getting the Alfalfa locally.  We will be adding some form of terracing also.  I did get a tip from a member about driving stakes in front of the plants and building a terrace for that plant.  I did try it yesterday afternoon after noticing one Blackhaw was stressing and starting to droop. The soil/clay in front of it had dried and was hard.  After building the terrace and watering, it was perky in the morning and had remained that way all day.  We are hand watering with a sprinkling can so as not to erode more than necessary.

The only severely visible erosion spot is on the extreme left side when facing south.  It is a problem because the entire driveway runoff follows down across bare spotted lawn and has dug out a rut in the slope.  That will be the main focus of terracing and water diversion.  The major portion of the slope is not rutted because of the lawn in place before it and a line of Hostas my wife planted at the top of the slope years ago.  I think we will rearrange some of them.  The rain that falls directly on the slope will continue to slowly erode the soil, and the Alfalfa should hold most of it together for now.  I will also be putting on topsoil and compost, hopefully tomorrow if the rain holds off.  I will use hay as you said to stop the impact of the rain, providing I can find Alfalfa seed.

We have already planted nine berry bushes on Wednesday, so I don't know if terracing that area, outside of doing it specifically for the individual plants as I had experimented with the Blackhaw is reasonable for this year, or the future, now that the bushes are in.  Putting terraces on the left side, which happens to be not as steep, can be done this year because we did not plant anything there yet knowing it would need a solution to the runoff before doing that.

We do have gutters on the eaves and the rain barrel is something I have looked at.  We plan to start a garden on the southwest side of the lawn above the slope and it is right in line with the end of the gutter, so the barrel is first on the list.

This is an ambitious project, and as we had started to restore the front lawn a month or so ago, having two projects, and possibly starting a garden this year, is clearly not a good idea.  I just received Gaia's Garden yesterday and I guess I have homework to do.  It is enjoyable and stress relieving to be in the soil..  Getting it right is the difficult part.

Thanks again, and I will try to get pics up.  I have been trying to get my son to do that for the lawn forum too.  Maybe this weekend.


Al

 
Al Loria
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Paul Cereghino wrote:
Ive pounded stakes on contour, then brush laid crosswise upslope to create little terraces, then mulch the heck out of it, then plant.  Both the stakes and the brush can be cuttings that root.  Sorry - I don't know you climate or species.





Paul, we are in Zone 6 in New York.  I tried your idea with a Blackhaw that was planted on Wednesday and was stressed with the warm up and wind yesterday.  It worked very well and totally eliminated the stress on the bush overnight.  I didn't have any cuttings to use so I went with Maple tree branches for the stakes and last year's ornamental grass, which is like Bamboo and sticks for the crosswise support.  I also placed rocks on the outside of the stakes for additional support for the terrace. Then I mixed the clay dirt/soil with compost and leaf mulch and put leaf mulch on top to retain moisture.

So far so good.  I am thinking this is the way for me to go unless I can terrace the whole slope. That would be very difficult to do this year, and with the bushes in place already, your idea may be the best compromise.

Thanks for the suggestion.


Al
 
Ken Peavey
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Good Luck with the project.  Stick with it, you'll get it done.
 
Al Loria
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Ken Peavey wrote:
Good Luck with the project.  Stick with it, you'll get it done.



Thanks, we will.  Can't back out now even if we wanted to.
 
paul wheaton
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bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Al Loria
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paul wheaton wrote:
pictures!


Here are some pics of the slope.  Hopefully you can get an idea.  These are before we added topsoil and Clover today.
DSC02150.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02150.JPG]
DSC02149.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02149.JPG]
 
Al Loria
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Northeast Al wrote:
Here are some pics of the slope.  Hopefully you can get an idea.  These are before we added topsoil and Clover today.


More...
DSC02148.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02148.JPG]
DSC02147.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02147.JPG]
 
Al Loria
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Northeast Al wrote:
Here are some pics of the slope.  Hopefully you can get an idea.  These are before we added topsoil and Clover today.


More again...
DSC02146.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02146.JPG]
DSC02145.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02145.JPG]
 
Al Loria
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Northeast Al wrote:
More again...


And, the last one...
DSC02144.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC02144.JPG]
 
Al Loria
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These are the slope pics from earlier today.  The slope's angle may not look as severe as it truly is in these pics.  Slipped and fell enough times today to remember how steep it is.

1st shot is looking down on an angle.  2nd is looking down the slope from another point.  3rd is a side view from standing almost at the bottom.  4th is the washout which is on the far left side when looking south down the slope. Last year's leaves are still on this area.  We have not touched it yet  5th is a bottom looking up shot.  6th is a side view. 7th is a side view too.

We added topsoil today and clover seed (couldn't get Alfalfa today)  White Dutch and Red Clover, covered by chopped straw mulch.  Also, we terraced and built up soil in front of each of the 9 plants we added.

Still have a Cherry and an apple tree, along with two Yellow Raspberry bushes to add.  The trees may go on the lawn above.  They would look great there.

It was 90 degrees and humid today.  So much for a New York spring.
 
                        
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NE Alabama.

I just checked out hazelnut because I wasn't sure it would grow this far south.  It is supposed to be good through zone 9.

I have a slope between me and my neighbors (a federal apartment project).  I can't plant food plants because they would be stripped.  Im planting oakleaf hydrangea for screening.

http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/oakleaf.html

It is a good native slope plant and beneficial to wild life.
 
                                      
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hi,
are you known with the concept of swales? in many of the videos from mollison, geoff lawton and sepp holzer they show how to build swales to prevent erosion on slopes.

usually their slopes are bit bigger, but it works perfectly with smaller ones as well.

actually i had a demonstration on a 20cm high slope built in with tiny little swales.

the idea is that you dig a ditch followed by a hill along the contour of your slope. it works a bit like teracing. on the top ridge of the hill you plant a tree or shrubbery (yay, i got to say shrubbery).

the water stays in the ditch and will travel down trough the soil in stead of over it, and at the same time watering the trees and shrubs, who on their turn help with holding the soil.

im sure you can find some nice vids if you search youtube for 'swales' and 'permaculture'.

i cant really make out from the pics if a swale or two would be possible there but i cant see why not.

good luck with facilitating the wildlife, its always a good use for land.
 
Al Loria
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:
hi,
are you known with the concept of swales? in many of the videos from mollison, geoff lawton and sepp holzer they show how to build swales to prevent erosion on slopes.

usually their slopes are bit bigger, but it works perfectly with smaller ones as well.

actually i had a demonstration on a 20cm high slope built in with tiny little swales.

the idea is that you dig a ditch followed by a hill along the contour of your slope. it works a bit like teracing. on the top ridge of the hill you plant a tree or shrubbery (yay, i got to say shrubbery).

the water stays in the ditch and will travel down trough the soil in stead of over it, and at the same time watering the trees and shrubs, who on their turn help with holding the soil.

im sure you can find some nice vids if you search youtube for 'swales' and 'permaculture'.

i cant really make out from the pics if a swale or two would be possible there but i cant see why not.

good luck with facilitating the wildlife, its always a good use for land.


Thanks for the suggestion and, Yes, I have just learned of swales reading the book Gaia's Garden.  We intend to use it to create a lens of water inside the slope to lower watering requirements.

We have planted 18 trees and "Shrubbery," yeah, I like that Monty Pythonesque word  too, on the slope, and it is about 3/4 complete.  We will plant some pioneering plants as well.  Right now, there is only red and white clover we planted to stop erosion and fix nitrogen.  This will be a slow and deliberate process that is a learning experience as we go along.  I'm sure we will have made mistakes and missteps, but that is all in the process of learning.


Al


 
Al Loria
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This is the slope now after adding 3 apple trees, 2 paw paws, 3 chokeberry, 2 serviceberry, 3, blueberry, foxglove, yarrow, cosmos, 4 raspberry, blackberry, switchgrass, reed grass, monarda, rudbekia and lavender.  And some other plants which I may have forgotten.  The slope is now stable and has become an area conducive to wildlife.
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Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9696
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Wow!  That is a fantastic improvement! 
 
Al Loria
Posts: 395
Location: New York
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Thanks, Ludi. 

All the clover has been taken over by weeds, which I will slash and leave in place by the end of the month.  We weeded twice this summer and a lot of cattails and small bluestem grasses filled in.  I am leaving it as natural as I can, and weeding and mulching around plants.  I didn't include the small set of rock steps on the far side near the small Blood Good maple that acts as a terrace to mitigate the water that flows down during heavy rain.

Also forgot to mention we planted 2 blackhaw, sweet woodruff and Nasturtium around the apple trees, and Pennsylvania sedge and Appalachian sedge along the steps, plus a specimen of switchgrass at the top.  Need more pics I guess.  We used native plants from American Beauties almost exclusively.  Except for a flowering raspberry which has been a little stressed, they have all done well.

I'm sure I'll remember more plants later.
 
Paulo Bessa
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Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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We are starting a new project in Europe and we have a much larger slope than you, Al Loria. We have some slopes of about 70º and showing signs of erosion, when vegetation is not enough.

We will be basically doing more or less the same as you did, which was a great job.

The terrain is already arranged in terraces from the past, but since it has been long abandoned it has been covered with pine and chestnut forest.

The pines are not the best trees because they easily fall down and make the understory soil acid. We think replacing them with other more useful trees, and perhaps with deeper roots, some like honey locust, mesquites, serviceberry, mulberry, apples, pears, cherries, but keeping the original oaks and chestnuts. Do you guys agree also on this?

We will be arranging a swale system to make the water follow the terraces gently downwards rather than crossing immediately downwards washing soil. We might be gradually removing the ferns covering the soil and replacing them with berries, asparagus, mints, strawberries, clovers and alfalfa, while planting also fruit trees and some deep root species (not sure yet). I think this also seems the best choice, but I am not fully sure whether the swales can become messy if it rains heavy (because the terrace region is already one with a high water table). Any suggestions/corrections to my idea?

 
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