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What to do on steep slope in Mediterranean climate

 
Posts: 34
Location: Central Coast, CA
3
trees building homestead
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for the help. I live on a 40 acre ranch on the central coast of California. I'm helping out my landlord with his lavender farm on the property, and am in a bit of a quandary. Heres the setup:
- home on top of a hill
- steep, compacted, weedy hill leads down from home, approximately 60% (30°, 1:1.7, run is approximately 75 feet)
- flattens out at base of hill to a road, on the other side of which is a pond
- lavender fields 30 feet below pond elevation, about 150 feet away.

He originally wanted to over the entire hillside with pond liner, with a drainage ditch at the bottom that drains across road to the pond. However, i didnt think this was a good idea as a) the pond will certai ly overflow from the nearly 50,000 gallons this hillside will collect in an average rain year, and much of the water will just runoff the rest of the property, b) this is an area where there is more evaporation than precip, so storing water above ground isnt ideal, and c) black pond liner covering an entire hillside in front of your home isnt all that aesthetically pleasing.

So... in arid climates, ive read best place to store water is in soil. If i can hydrate this hillside, i think the water lens created will benefit the lavender downslope, and much less will be lost to evaporation. Ive read 60% is too steep for swales, terraces, net and pan... correct?

Are there any other options, suggestions, etc? Pics to come in follow up message. Thanks again for the time and help.

 
Wes Cooke
Posts: 34
Location: Central Coast, CA
3
trees building homestead
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Here are the photos, they have descriptions in the names
https://drive.google.com/folder/d/0B6TtwthNlW-TNVBWVFJGcG5ETUU/edit
 
pollinator
Posts: 1524
Location: northern California
150
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Tried to look at the photos with two browsers and nothing shows up.
First idea I come up with is fire danger, with the house at the top of the hill (a bad mistake in several different respects, fire and water being tops), you will have to be very careful what you plant on the slope.....it should be fire resistant and/or well irrigated. Close grass kept browsed by sheep might do. If the landlord has money to blow on that much pond liner, it seems he must have enough for at least a few swales/terraces if there is anywhere on the slope possible to place them, perhaps with some retaining wall? A large tank or small pond on the hilltop, near the house if there is room, might be in order as well. Perhaps it can be fed by roof catchment.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
59
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- I get an " Empty Folder Message ! For the Crafts ! Big AL
 
Wes Cooke
Posts: 34
Location: Central Coast, CA
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trees building homestead
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Hmmm... sorry about that. The new links posted below. Im doing it from a tablet and its proving to be a little tricky.

Pulled back view from the road looking up the hill toward their house

View from halfway up the hill


View from top of hill, looking down at road and pond (behind all that greenery and the airstream)

And Alder, thanks for the resoonse. I should clarify, the house is not at the very top of a hill; it is located on a flattened area about halfway down a hill. Below that, the hill gets steeper again, and this is the area I'm taking about. They have water tanks located further above the house.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1296
Location: northern northern california
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looks like a great spot for terraces. making them is slow, hard work, but worth it =) you could do some nice wavy shapes and really do up the different levels with little niches and lots of textures, or even just do them straight lined...maybe even like a big spiral staircase, well sort of...not tight, but wide "steps"...with terraces at each (large) "step"....
 
pollinator
Posts: 2392
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You might try nasturtiums. Caltrans uses them for steep slopes like freeway on-ramps and off-ramps in San Diego county. They seems to do well in a dry climate. I say that wistfully, because since I moved to Georgia, I haven't had much success with them and they often get drowned from the rain and humidity here.
 
Posts: 292
Location: SW Missouri
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That hill is too steep to work and should be allowed to return to forest. Trees will hold moisture in the ground and allow water in the soil downhill
 
Posts: 39
Location: San Diego County, CA (9a) ~15-18"precip/yr
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I find varieties of prickly pear cactus to be relatively easy, cheap and fast to plant on steep slopes. Plus you can eat em! Certain varieties of ice plant can be good in some situations, fruit is also edible.

A diverse array of native or native-like plants including some trees, shrubs and hopefully some ground cover would be great. Looks like you already have some healthy oak trees in the area, could plant some more of those, then add some chaparral species like ceanothus/sage species/etc.
 
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