Hill Landscape Help

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  #1  
Old 05-25-15, 06:04 PM
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Hill Landscape Help

This will be the second summer we have lived in our current house and I am looking for help. Our entire house is on a hill that slopes down in the front yard. There is a small portion next to the driveway that is also mostly shaded by a neighbors large tree. Due to this shade and our clay soil there is little to no grass and is covered in weeds and bare spots.

Mowing this hill is a huge pain as it is rather steep. So I'm not even going to try and grow grass here. I was thinking of putting hostas at the top of the hill that borders the neighbors yard. I was then going to then put pachysandra on the hill. I then read that it prefers shade, so I'm not sure how it will do at the lower portion of the hill, that does see a good bit of sun.

I'm looking for any and all input. The section that is flat and near the road I plan on leaving grass, there is no real issue there. However the rest is totally up for ideas.

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Edit: Forgot to mention I am in USDA zone 7
 
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  #2  
Old 05-25-15, 07:19 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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Did your neighbors just lay some new sod? Looking at their lawn it appears to be in good shape. Do you want to avoid mowing it? What inf of money are you looking to spend?
 
  #3  
Old 05-25-15, 08:48 PM
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My sister had a house with a front yard sloping as yours does., although there was a drainage ditch at the base of the front yard. The rain ran downhill and collected in the drainage ditch, which allowed the grass there to grow twice as fast as the rest of the lawn. Rainwater drained off the hilly portion although grass did grow there, but it wasn't a good quality of grass.

It doesn't look as though there's a ditch or gulley at the base of your yard, but there is some bare area which I'm wondering about, i.e., is the rainwater draining down right over it to the base of the yard?

If so, regardless of whether you put grass or a ground cover, there may be an issue with water retention on that slope. I suspect also that it's sandy rather than good loam, although you write that you have clay soil.

You might have to work in some good compost to give tilth to that area before you plant any ground cover. Working in some coffee grounds will attract earthworms, which will help aerate the soil and improve it.

Hostas are a great idea for the top of the hill; there are quite a few varieties from small to large, from white to deep marine blue in color. Caladiums and astilbes provide lovely splashes of color, and could brighten up the deeply shaded areas. Caladiums are typically summertime plants but might be hardy in zone 7, if you don't have any frost or freezes at all. After last winter, it's hard to guess what even the southern zones might experience in the future.

Pachysandras prefer partial to full shade, so I do think that the base of the hill might be too sunny for pachysandra.

This might help; it's hits on "ground covers, sun, zone 7":

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  #4  
Old 05-26-15, 04:35 AM
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They had sod laid I believe 3 years ago, a year before we moved in. The front facing part of their hill has some sort of low evergreen on it. I want to avoid mowing it due to the incline of it. It's to sharp to push up it and going down isn't the safest to control. I'd prefer to keep it as cheap as possible. You can see our new driveway that we just had done a few weeks ago. The entire house was empty for 2 years before moving in and it still looked like 1970 when we got it. So our home improvement budget has taken a hit over the past year and a half.
 
  #5  
Old 05-26-15, 04:39 AM
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Thanks for the link. Our entire yard is very hard and mostly clay unfortunately. I'm not sure how much work I can put into the soil. I'd try to till it but between that trees roots and the incline I'm unsure how successful I'll be. That plus cost, is the biggest reason I was considering ground cover instead of doing a full fledged garden.
 
  #6  
Old 05-26-15, 04:33 PM
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Just guessing but I think tilling would disturb if not damage the tree roots, which I suspect are growing out and down the slope.

There are some low growing evergreens that are considered ground covers; they'll provide a nice landscape and won't require any maintenance.

As to remediating the clay, let the worms do the work. Dig little holes here and there, put some coffee grounds at the base, and let the worms enjoy themselves aerating the soil. If you don't drink coffee, I'm told that Starbucks will give away bags of grounds to gardeners.

I've also known of gardeners planting plants with very long tap roots which also help aerate and break up the soil.
 
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