Landscape input for hill

kenallgoodJuly 29, 2013

Ok, don't know if this is the best place, but it's a start :)

I have a hill in my backyad that's pretty steep, about 30 ft from the back of the house. Unfortunately, it's quite overgrown with weeds. It has some good trees on it. Too steep for me to really do anything grass wise. What I'm thinking of doing is getting a few more trees in there, make it a somewhat more wooded area, help cut back on the weeds. Largest factor is going to be cost, which, I really don't have funds to spend (few dollars here and there, mainly what I find on clearance). However, I do have several bushes/shrubs to propagate from, mainly Crape Myrtles and Rose of Sharons. Possibly even make it wooded with doing a shaded garden. I've already started on the left side with Hostas, and also have a line of Azalea's (3 that I planted last year you can see barel at bottom of hill). The hill fasts east, and the wood fence (neighbor) is on the south side. Not looking for anything great, just something that is lower on maintainance and not costly, help cut back on the weeds.

First picture, April 2012, Panoramic of back yard/hill. Doesn't look too bad here, before all the weeds got to grow (and I weedeated it before it got out of control).

This is how the right (northern) side of hill looks now, completely overgrown. You can just make out 2 azaleas out front, along some with gladiolus. Rest is weeds/wildflowers. A shrub/bush behind it, maybe some type of juniper (no clue!) with honeysuckle on top...

An open area, the middle of the hill. I'm trying to grow 2 Crape Myrtles in the middle (current 6-8" tall)

Crape Myrtle hiding in the grass/weeds

Side shot of same overgrown area (looking North/Northwest), but looking behind the bush.

Top of hill, looking down (north/northeast). This would be above the main shrub/bush there (the supposed Juniper). There's also a rose of sharon just off-center to left I transplated this spring that's on the left side of the panoramic shot.

Top of hill, looking down on the south side, looking east. I'm thinking of planting 2 rose of sharons, on either side of a Crape Myrtle I planted (cuttling from the Crape Myrtle in Panoramic shot, not same type as 2 planted in middle, which are more mid-size)

This is where I'm focusing right now.

I've weeded out about 1/2 of it.
Hard to tell, but there's a baby azalea in there I planted this spring. Back middle in this picture

I have good luck with Daffodils and tulips in this area, as there is no shade there in the spring. I also planted some daylilies there for the summer (forget the species, but it's a purple variety). I just planted them from tubulars from Sam's club, so I expect I won't get much blooms until next year. I had a couple, but that's it. Have a columbine, some Hostas, and some Ferns, all planted this year. The plum tree is probably going to come down.

Shot behind the area in progress

I have a baby cedar tree I planted mid-way up this spring, we'll see if it survives. However, I think I'll stil need something more, as it's above that Juniper bush (cannot really see it in pic, on right side), if I'm going to create a shaded area.

I'm not necessarily looking for a whole shade effect, however, that's going to be one of the easier ways to control the weeds I think, to some degree anyway. Unfortunately, time is an issue as well. Have 3 kids under the age of 5, and I work full-time, so I get maybe 1-2 hours each Saturday to do a little work, maybe Sunday too, and that's primarily spent weeding that one area, and the rest of my garden areas. This home was a foreclosure, so I have a dozen different areas that I'm trying to clean up. I've made a lot of progress on other fronts. I figure if I'm going to be doing trees back there, can go ahead and get that started, and work on the weeds/brush once the trees are taking hold....

This post was edited by kenallgood on Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 1:58

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Well u have alot going on! I have "reclaimed" several wild and weedy areas. What I suggest is to focus now (especially since it is summer now) on the clearing out of the weeds and brush. They will come back unless you take measures to keep them gone. If you are not opposed to using a product such as Roundup or similar brand, you can carefully apply that. Not on a windy day. It won't hurt woody trunks unless you use the brush killer. It will take maybe 2 wks to die out then you can rake it out and mulch it. But I try to avoid chemicals so I clear it out by hand and then mulch. I know you are on a budget so a good thing to mulch with is wet newspaper or shredded paper, covered with fallen leaves and grass clippings. I have reclaimed several areas by mowing them down and then covering repeatedly with grass clippings.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 10:36AM
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That post was getting long so here's the second part. Crape myrtles like full sun. Rose of Sharon can take some shade. I have found lots of bargains in clearance sections. So I wouldn't fool with some of the tiny shrubs you have there but mow all that down, or clear by hand. See what you have then. In the spring you may be able to sow some wildflower seed (of course they need sun) that maybe tolerate some shade, or go to a farm supply store and get some clover or other cover crop seed, just to stabilize the slope until you can mulch it. I've also had pretty good success just laying down small twigs that I've cut down, as mulch. For example I've recently cleared out some goldenrod and boltonia, and I just lay the stems down thickly over low grass or weeds. It all goes back to mulch/compost as it degrades and looks brown in a day or so. Especially in a wild area, it looks fine. You can also rent a chipper/shredder and put all the brush through that and aim it where you want mulch. Good luck. It will be a very pretty area once it's done.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Definitely not opposed to chemicals. I had planted a lot of wildflower seeds last spring in that front right area, and it looked like a somewhat decent area, in that in was flowering, though a mix of weeds and wildflowers. This year, I just let it grow, so I wouldn't kill off any wildflowers... Well, I don't see any of what I would consider wildflowers, just weeds. So may do the round-up (did that before I planted the wildflowers), and then weedeat. The Rose of Sharon's will be at the top of the hill, and will be getting mid-day/afternoon sun, so I think they'll be happy. The Crape Myrtles in the middle, they have sun for now in mid-day and good portion of the afternoon.. Not planting anything else that'll be tall near them, so hopeful they'll be good :)

Maybe rose of Sharon's and groundcover (juniper maybe?) on that front right hill. Juniper to keep the weeds down, and Rose of Sharon to fill it in. It's a major pain to even weedeat that front right area, nearly twist my ankle anytime I do it.

Edit: OH yeah, add Forsythia Lynwood Gold to the list of possibilities.. I picked one up on clearance from Lowes a few months back, and just planted it out front. Never had one, but I have read they're even easier to propagate, and I think this one looks pretty healthy.

This post was edited by kenallgood on Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 21:51

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 12:23PM
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I'd try sheet mulching areas but that looks like a lot of area to cover so you might have to start slow. Get cardboard from appliance stores and try to find free mulch (maybe your local landfill has mulch available). You might also be able to get chopped wood from tree cutting companies but I find that the wood chips from tree companies tends to get washed off slopes easily. The double shredded mulch does better for me.

You could at least sheet mulch around the existing shrubs to keep the weeds from taking over those plants. Then msybe slowly work out from there.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 4:23PM
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wow that is a lot going on, my advice would be to cut it all back to just the tree, fence off the tress with cheap fencing and then make sure you grow the turf to the fence line....will need regular maintenance etc but wont cost a fortune to do, just some hardwork, sweat and toil :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:40AM
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as I think about it more.. some options may be, cut down the 2 trees on top of hill (one is dogwood, has a chain that someone put around it that the tree has grown around, so I'm assuming that's going to kill the tree). Not sure what the other tree is, but it's getting close to the power lines. So, cut them down, and just plant a whole row of Rose of Sharon's. They'll get plenty of mid-day/afternoon son. Up front, on the right side of the hill (in middle of the weed mess), do the Lynnwood Forsythia. Then do another one on the left side, above my current working area (very last picture), between the wooden fence and large juniper. that'll fill in the middle area of that hill on the left (and perhaps the cedar behind that if it's survived). I have all of those plants (have 7 baby Rose of Sharon's I'm growing from cuttings) that I can use. Probably do some sort of brush killer in the fall, then plant everything in the spring. Course it'll take a while for all of the cuttings to take off.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 11:40AM
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Is there a reason for not clearing all the weeds? If they're forming seedheads now and you just mow them down, they'll be back in huge numbers.

If it was mine, I'd clear and clean. Think you'll find it will be much easier to take this approach.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 9:30AM
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Main thing is just too much to do and maintain at this point (which is why I want to try to plant something that will help control the weeds). The other thing is, if I don't have something to go in as a replacement, the soil will erode. So need to do each section when I have a good replacement. I did do that with a weed & grass killer on the right side of the hill the fall before last, and planted wildflowers the following spring. It wasn't too bad that spring/summer. This year, I didn't replant, and I guess most were annuals, cause I don't see that many of the wildflowers.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 12:09PM
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I think you need to get the undesirable plants under control before adding more landscspe plants. The small sized plants I see that look newly planted are mostly going to be taken over by the existing weedy vegetation.

Shade trees will not shade out all the weedy growth. The shady parts of our yard were overgrown jungles despite the shade.

There are some trees that are just so difficult to grow under that they would suppress other plant growth, but I imagine this would take many years to happen.

Can the hill be mowed it is it too steep?

Maybe you could cut out the woody weeds and get to a point where the other weeds are mowed regularly. Kind of like a pasture on a hill.

I really think the small bushes and trees you have planted need heavy sheet mulching around them to keep the weeds at bay. If you kill the existing vegetation with weed killer you will still have years worth of weed seeds in the soil, waiting to sprout when you least want them to.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 6:55PM
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