Help! Plantings For Iffy Hillside?


Old 04-23-02, 02:09 PM
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Question Help! Plantings For Iffy Hillside?

There is a small (5-6 ft) hillside just behind the side of our house. Beyond it is our neighbor's hedge and driveway. I had intended to build a rock retaining wall there, but we've only lived here 6 months.

A few days ago I was pulling dandelions and blackberry vines out of it and found that it doesn't appear to be very stable. The earth is sandy & crumbly, and there are large rotted, hollow roots in it.

A neighbor claims that the previous owner cleared the area (probably of blackberry) right before he showed the house. I'm afraid that a retaining wall will not hold and that next winter's rains (Pacific NW) will wash both the soil and the wall into our home.

So I'm thinking I should plant a woody shrubbery there, possibly a ground spreading Juniper?

Can someone advise?
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Old 04-23-02, 05:59 PM
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Hi ohnonowwhat?

Welcome! My sister lives in West Seattle. She has been battling blackberries for years. Have you heard of the Millionaire's Club? She used them numerous times and paid professionals to try and get rid of them (along with horsetail). Maybe somebody has some suggestions, but since you stated you were told that the previous owner just cut back blackberries out that area, I'm guessing that you'd better wait to plant anything until you're sure those blackberries are COMPLETELY gone. They were even growing on a hill behind their garage, the berries were dropping on their garage roof and blackberry bushes were sprouting from the roof.

They tried every spray there is, digging them out, etc. I even asked on a garden board and nothing suggested worked.

Good luck! If you find a way to get rid of them forever, my sister would be so grateful.

Old 04-23-02, 09:15 PM
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Gami, I think wild blackberries are just a part of life here, we just try to keep them in check.

My question (sorry if I wasn't clear enough) is more about what I can plant that might make this small hillside more stable. Do I want something with a good spreading root system? And what would that be?
Old 04-24-02, 05:14 AM
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Hi again,

I wanted to caution you about the blackberries. Since they were growing in that area, they could sprout in the middle of whatever you plant. In trying to kill them, you could also kill whatever you plant there. Obviously the blackberries that have dropped in the soil will keep producing new plants.

I'm going to turn this over to someone else. It does sound like you'll have a problem if you don't do something, but I'm not sure what that would be and don't want to give any wrong advice. My guess is you need to do something about that sandy soil, especially with the amount of rain you receive. I was out there the year mud slides were a big problem.

Old 05-03-02, 05:08 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Maryland zone 7
Posts: 1,716
Iffy hillside

This one sounds serious enough to have a pro come out and take a look. I would suggest either a landscape architect or landscape designer who knows their soil. Do ask if they have delt with a similar problem before they come out and get references from people that they have helped with that problem. Check the references. It might be worth the consult fee rather than doing either the wrong thing or nothing. It might even be worth contacting the former owner and asking exactly what was there before. Do let them know that a lawsuit isn't pending. ;-)

Good luck,
Old 05-03-02, 08:26 PM
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Smile blackberry slope

I know what you mean. Stabilizing slopes can be done with a vigorous root system. The best shrub I know is Cotoneaster Horozontalis. It has a vigorous root system, nice white blooms in the spring and red berries in the winter that the birds love. Deer normally will leave it alone and it will stabilize your slope.

Blackberries are a continual problem, just keep cutting them back when you see them.

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