Landscaping Next To A Creek

Collins7910March 24, 2013


I recently purchased a house that backs up to a creek. The back yard is basically one very large deck with a steep grade leading to the creek. Last summer, I struggled to keep the area below my deck maintained as it quickly grew large weeds as you often see next to drainage ditches. This spring, I am determined to get this area looking nice and under control so that I can fully enjoy my unique property.

I am looking for any advice on how to landscape this area. It poses many challenges as there is no access to bring in the equipment necessary to re grade or spread topsoil. However, I am willing to do the required manual labor to make the area look nice so if I am stuck spreading topsoil by hand then I will do it. I am open to any and all ideas. Your advise is very much appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

View from the deck looking at the creek.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

With diligence, weeds can be successfully controlled under most conditions, but they will be easier to combat in a shady setting than one that is full sun. Since the stream is not distant, it would be pretty easy to establish shade that, with a high-pruned canopy, still allowed for a good view of the water. If this were mine, that's what I'd strive for. The minimum approach would include a tree canopy plus a durable groundcover. If you wanted to do more and have more interest, you could include shrubs, perennials and even some annuals. I would avoid fussy plants and use trees and groundcover that were easy to grow and not particular about soil or ones that needed soil amendments. Anything you plant will need fertilizer and supplemental watering. A vining groundcover would be the easiest to establish and it would cover objects--like rocks or stumps--sitting on top of the ground. You'd need to be especially diligent, until the groundcover and some shade was established, not to permit any weeds. If any were to re-seed or spread by roots, your job of getting rid of them would be greatly increased.

You might need to be creative about mulch. Power company mulch would be good if you can get it. You might need to stabilize it (to keep from sliding down the hill) with sticks, branches and miscellaneous forest litter.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 10:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Have you considered planting with native plants and or plants that do well in your current soil and climate conditions ?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 12:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks so much for the responses. I was definitely planning on using native plants that do well in my soil conditions. I live in zone 7 according to the USDA plant hardiness zones so I will keep that in mind when choosing plants. I really like the idea of putting in a few trees, especially on the slope.

What is the best way to control weeds once I plant ground cover? Is it going to require picking them by hand without chemicals? That is my only concern with ground cover.

I was also thinking of laying some type of creeping grass, possibly a drought tollerant bermuda. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 10:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How would you maintain grass, like Bermuda, on a hill ... especially if trees and their shade were there?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 4:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

I'm with deviant deziner. Use natives (trees and shrubs) to anchor and stabilize that slope. I see a few saplings to the left of your pic. Begin the process of trimming them up. If you have the wherewithall to have access to any stone, I would recommend making one- three terraces to plant an ornamental tree (dogwood, redbud) to serve as literal and focal anchors for the site.. By staggering such terraces down the slope, it can serve to stabilize the slope and slow down runoff and allow for walking down there. If you also have access to a wholesale nursery that sells 'plugs', you can buy flats of these at $1.25 or so a plug and by mid summer you will have plants that will cover your property in foliage & color. Consider native grasses and sedges for planting near the cree, and your design will have to encompass a safe & attractive walk down to this streamside taking into account children.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A lot of what is possible for your slope is dictated by the soil and steepness of the slope, which can't be determined from your photos. Unless you face the hard reality of that slope and complete a practical plan for dealing with it I doubt you will be pleased with the results from whatever you choose to do.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

These are all great points. Sounds like I need I do a little research and a few tests on my soil conditions, then devise a plan to deal with my slopes before I start planting anything. Makes sense to do the research before spending money on plants that won't survive.

Thanks again for all the advice!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would toss wildflower seeds all over and let nature take over. If you must plant stuff, do make sure your choices are native for that locale. That's an awesome creek :)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 10:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kbard(6b PA)

Not sure if this creek supports trout, but keeping a buffer of native plants about 2-3 feet deep at the edge of the creek would be best for their health... a place for bugs to live and then conveniently fall in the water for them to eat after a hatch. As a fly fisherwoman I am jealous of this backyard! Looks like maybe other good buffer around the sides though even though the pic doesn't show much but I'd keep it in mind during your design

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 9:51PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Spacing for Armstrong Maple and Crimson Spire Oak
I plan to provide height to the borders of my backyard...
Bob Sislow
Ditched my landscaper - yellow pine choice
Going to my local Camellia expert's nursery and just...
Need privacy in backyard on three sides (zone 6)
I really like my neighbors but I live in the suburbs...
Where to find 3/8" minus gravel in NY/NJ??
Our community garden is planning to rehabilitate our...
Do any of you see any red flags with this design?
We got a landscape design for our new yard that we...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™