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Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Posted by Forum-QnA 9 (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 8, 12 at 21:20

Long time enjoy reader, but 1st time poster and looking forward to your expert feedback.

I am in zone 9, Inland Empire, Southern California. I have a big back yard slope split by a v-ditch in the middle into 2 parcels. Please see picture. The slope is a little less steep(23 degree) than 2:1. Both parcels are about the same size, about 100'(horizontal) x 60'(slope) each.

I am thinking there should be some erosion control vegetation above the v-ditch. Some drought tolerance, desertscape or mix with some gravel or rockscape will save some water. The follow are some prefer plants. Let your imagination to be materialized on my back yard. Thank you in advance.

Not limited to the following:
Crepe Myrtle variety colors
Senecio ground cover
Lantana variety colors
Bouganvilla bush
Bronze & Green Flax
Aloe arborescens
Area for some fruit trees


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

v-ditch picture.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

You have not stated what the objectives are. It would also be important to know the relationship to the residence and the pictures don't indicate.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Thank you very much Yardvaark. My objective is to prevent wild native brush/weed from growing which is a very unpleasant sight. I am looking for a colorful landscape ideas which includes trees, shrubs and ground cover to give a good contrast which you can enjoy the view from the kitchen nook/lving room. I know you are good with visual graphic which provide a good perspective of how it might looks like which is very helpful. I forgot to mention that some ornamental grass will be very helpful as well.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

More picture


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

More pictures


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Wow! What an unusual landscape. This could be like looking at a painting from your windows. It'll be interesting to see what others suggest. Was topsoil removed in creating such a regular slope? What is the soil like (e.g. loamy, sandy, rocky, clay)? Do you like to garden or are you wishing for easy maintenance?


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Whatever advice you get, here or elsewhere, remember that being good with visual graphic and offering you good design advice are two different things!

A bad design well rendered is still a bad design.

People reading this forum and posting questions are lamentably prone to oohing and aaahing over anything done with pictures, while totally missing excellent advice that is being given in words, or if more than one picture is offered, falling like a stone for the prettiest one.

Currently the climate on the forum is such that no one dares to critique anyone else's contributions because they are afraid of getting their nose snipped off. So assuming you get some advice, it will be up to you to distinguish the good from the bad without the assistance of the expert designers or experienced gardeners who don't need the abuse that critical evaluation or disagreement usually brings on.

Karin L


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Hi IshCountryGal, I think the soil type is more like loamy/sandy but not very loamy. Yes, the slope is just like a blank canvas. Hopefuly someone here can provide their expert suggestion/advice. I will promise to update the progress pictures.

Karin, thank you very much for your advice. I don't have any landscape brain at all!! Therefore, any advice whether in words or graphic rendering is greatly appreciated which allow me to read up or research further.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

That's an awfully big and steep slope to keep any weeds or brush from growing on it's own.

You should check with your local extension office to see what will grow easily with little water needs. They may be able to tighten up your list or make sure you don't but anything invasive or easily burnable. I'm sure they have a list of erosion control plants too.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Forum-QnA,if your objective is to enhance the view and keep native vegetation from establishing, are you envisioning planting the entire 6,000 s.f.? Seems like it would be a costly proposition. This hill looks like highway engineering or such. Why is it like that? What's at the top or other side? Why are there steps to the top? It would be helpful if you give a little background about it. Is there any need/desire for privacy/screening at the sides of the plot? Where does water that reaches the bottom of the slope go?

If this were my back yard I'd want to keep the view open to its termination and frame it at right and left sides. We haven't seen much of the foreground, but I can envision high shade nearer the house that gives a sense of shelter and frames the distant view only from overhead. Fruit trees, being smaller, seem like they could flank the lower portion of the slope where they would provide some screening at the sides and be more convenient than a more distant location. While my picture is not "the prettiest," I hope it gives a general idea of what I'm talking about. I'm not dealing yet with low plantings, only trees and screening.

The idea of incorporating "gravel" anywhere on the slope area has no appeal to me... at the bottom of the slope on the level portion, maybe, but it would depend on how well it would integrate with other landscaping around the home. (That area has not been shown.) I could see using large boulders at the lower portion of the slope, but think these would add large expense so don't know if it would be worth it.


Uploaded with ImageShack.us


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

We developed a lot very similar to yours about 12-13 years ago.
A series of undulating walkways and terraces traversed across the hill . Across the the v-ditch we install a simple redwood arched bridge and continued criss crossing up the hill. A variety of different sized sitting areas were installed along the walkway.
Eventually at the top of the hill a putting green and sitting area was installed
Here are a few photos.
The property was featured in Country Living Gardener in 2002 August issue as well as a few other magazines and a few different Taunton press books from 2002 to current.

From Before and After Projects

From portfolioMay08.jpg

From portfolioMay08.jpg

From portfolioMay08.jpg


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

tanowicki - it is a big slope to keep the weed out. The developer hydroseeded some native vegetation which looks like weed and very stressful to look at.

Yardvaark - thank you for the suggestion and sketch/picture. Yes, it can be very costly which depends on the type of landscape design. However, at the time being I am planning to just plant the ground cover with some shrubs, grass and trees. But don't know where to plant those which provide a nice landscape.
This is not next to the highway. The top of the slope is a ridge full of tall shrubs which slope away from my property and down the canyon on the other side. Cannot see the canyon beyond the fence. Therefore, no view.
The steps are to help get up to the top of the slope where there is a narrow flat area for a gazebo (when I have the money to build it) and other landscape and has a nice view of the valley. Beautiful night lights and July 4th fireworks.
The rain water is draining onto the lawn which has many small inlets connecting to the drainage system which eventually drains out to the street from both sides of the house.
There is a nice view on the left side of the slope which I don't want any tall trees to block the view. Right side of the slope doesn't have nice view except neighbor's backyard. However, I don't want to block their view with tall trees as well. Therefore only some trees like Crepe Myrtle should minimize blocking the neighbor's view.
I fully agreed with your suggestion that fruit trees should be on the lower part of the slope for easy access.
Between the house and the toe of slope is the lawn area which is flat.
This is the top of the slope.

This is the toe of the slope.

deviant-deziner - Wow !! I am impressed with the landscaping. Very nice before and after pictures for comparison. I wonder how much maintenance you have to put in for these type of landscape. Putting seating along the way up the slope is such an excellent idea. I might incorporate a few in the future.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

"There is a nice view on the left side of the slope which I don't want any tall trees to block the view." I don't believe you've shown the sight line of this view... the view and where it is viewed from... ? Take another look at your photos and see if it shows.

"However, I don't want to block their view with tall trees as well. Therefore only some trees like Crepe Myrtle should minimize blocking the neighbor's view." I don't understand your interpretation of what blocks a view and what maintains it. Of course, it depends from where one is viewing, but in general, tall trees with their canopies raised high--tall palms, for one example--allow one to see a distant view far beyond the trunks. Short trees like crape myrtle or fruit trees--whose canopies are barely above eye level--would tend to block the view beyond.

Again, I ask if you're planning on planting the ENTIRE 6K square feet? DIY or hiring a contractor? Saying that you're "only planning on planting..." ... does that mean you are excluding the idea of incorporating rock work?

Are these blocking or maintaining the view beyond?...


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

Purely visually speaking (since I have no idea how to make this work maintenance-wise - pardon me Karin):
There are a number of ways to divide a rectangle - in your case, I'm imagining diagonal lines going from lower left to upper right, almost (but not perfectly) parallel and slightly wavy (again, not perfect waves, more like a child's drawing). Fill the spaces created by the lines with 3 or more different ground covers/mass plantings of grasses/low shrubs. Going across that graphic sheet, put a serpentine pathway with comfortable landings - again, avoiding symmetry. Dot with a few taller shrubs, maybe a group of cypresses on the right side - make a miniature model of the slope in a sandbox and lift plants around.
An exercise we did at art school - good if looking for 2D composition ideas:
On a large paper, draw a network of random lines. Take a little frame and move it along the paper, stop whenever you find a pleasing set of lines inside the frame. Cut out the framed piece, repeat as many times as desired. Maybe you find something better than the above proposal this way.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

They have a maintenance gardening crew come in once a week for a few hours.
There is a lawn that has to be mowed once a week, patios that are swept, and the hillside takes various amounts of time depending on the time of year.
The biggest time suck is in the winter when the grasses, perennials and roses get cut back.
During the summer it is mostly dead heading , adding compost to beds, refreshing mulch, thinning overgrown plants and harvesting fruit and veggies from the large veg garden .

If you work with a local landscape designer and tell them how much of a maintenance budget you have on a monthly or weekly time frame , they can design a planting scheme that custom works with your budget. A local will also be familiar with your climate, wind, soil structure, water regulations , local codes and plants.


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RE: Your expertise is greatly appreciated

For what it's worth, there is a Hillside Gardening section on this forum, and Planting in Hard Places forum too.


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