LaBahn’s Landscaping maintains and services HOA communities, apartments, industrial complexes, hotels, and shopping centers; each have unique needs and we are able to make accommodations to serve each property type differently. One of the common needs we see across the spectrum of property types is SLOPES. Most of our clients have slopes in their properties and a common question is, “what do I do with my slopes?”
With winter months right around the corner and rain expected, slope care is so important to avoid unnecessary damage or danger. In this blog, we will provide some insight into common problems with slopes, as well as some common solutions.
Common problems that present themselves with slopes include irrigation runoff, erosion, visual barrier, and aesthetics/beauty. Let’s address these in order of importance:
- Erosion: Usually, the largest concern is for public safety, and protection of property. If the hill gives out during a rain event, or an irrigation problem (mainline break flood for example) and the hill collapse on a person or building there are serious liability issues, not to mention potential loss of life. In addition, the cost to destabilize and reengineer the slope can be extremely expensive.
- Irrigation: Plants that aren’t properly irrigated won’t last. Don’t assume your current irrigation system is good enough, an irrigation survey will help determine the capabilities and liabilities of your current system. We can help determine the current abilities of your system and provide suggestions to improve your irrigation for maximum performance and reduced water consumption. In addition, irrigation should be programmed for SHORT bursts of water, several times in a watering cycle. For example, instead of watering for 20 minutes at a time, we can program your timer to run 6 times for 3 minutes each. This will reduce runoff, and allow the soil to actually soak up and USE the water we give it. The goal is to get water to the root system of plants, and slopes are notorious for runoff.
- Visual Barrier: The slope itself creates a visual barrier in a community. There are phycological implications to this. We want to take a logical approach that breaks down the barriers and allows the landscaping to flow with the rest of the property.
- Aesthetics/Beauty: Imagine that you made the single greatest investment of your life in purchasing your home, or starting a new business, and every day you come home, or go to work, and look at a bare, dry, brown slope. This is not only discouraging, it is hurting your property value. Providing colorful plant material that requires low maintenance, and preserves the continuity of your slope is important!
The Design Process:
This process can vary depending on the needs of the property, but in terms of planting, there are basically three ‘types’ of plant material to consider: groundcover, vertical, and accent.
- Ground Cover: This is the plant material that will help conserve water, prevent top level erosion, and keep the whole slope covered with beautiful plant material.
- Consider the following types of plant material (this is not extensive, there are a ton of options!): Myoporum parvifolium/Prostrate Myoporum or Rosmarinus offincinalis ‘Prostratus’/Prostrate Rosemary.
- Verticals: These are the plants with deep root systems that truly protect the slope from erosion. These plants can also be beautiful splashes of color that provide a sense of nature, beauty and health that will promote wellness and an overall sense of belonging.
- Consider the following types of plant material (this is not extensive, there are a ton of options!): Rhus lancea/African Sumac, Cercidium ‘Desert Museum,’ Tipuana tipu/Tipu Tree, Cotoneaster lacteus, Heteromeles arbutifolia/California Holly, or Ceanothus/California Wild Lilac.
- Accent: These are the plants that “pop” on the slope. These provide differing texture or color than the rest of the slope.
- Consider the following types of plant material (this is not extensive, there are a ton of options!): Agaves, Echium candicans/Pride of Madeira, Cistus/Rockrose, Shrub Roses, Gaura, Lantana or perennial grasses.
Another option for slopes that you may want to consider is terracing the slopes using retaining walls; you can recapture ground space for fruit trees and a variety of other creative slope protection ideas. LaBahn’s Landscaping can provide design options, plant pallets, and other expert advice to help you with your slope planting needs! Just get in touch with us!