landscape/garden maintenance on hills

Hello,
My backyard is mostly a large hill. Over the past few days I have been remulching it and this has proven to be just an arduous and dangerous task due to lousy footing on the hill. With the mulch layer that's already there it's just very difficult if not impossible to climb up the hill and maintain footing to do whatever you need to do. And yes, I did start at the top and drop mulch down and just let gravity work but that only works for about the top 1/3 of the hill. The plants are also young enough that it takes a fair bit of care not to swamp them just pouring mulch down.
I tried laying a ladder down and while there was a glimmering that the idea had some merit ultimately it was too much of a pain to try and balance on and the ladder kept shifting.
I can't be the first person to run into this problem. I've seen companies that will blow mulch into place but I doubt they could get their equipment into my back yard and that whole idea is just too !green for my taste. What do people generally do in this situation? Is there a ladder made for this purpose?
thanks in advance ml
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wrote:

Depends on the amount of slope. I have got grass to grow on a steep slope, but if it is too steep to run a lawn mower over it there are other choices. Have you considered tiers, similar to how they do it in China? Sometimes a steep slope will cause erosion, which it did on my property until the grass became established.
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snipped-for-privacy@REMOVEyahoo.com wrote:

It sounds like a little "terracing" might be in order. It's easily done and doesn't need to be a big to-do but can be just partial terracing here and there resulting in new planting areas and places to stand.
I created a whole new gardening area starting with a haphazard wall of stackable stones halfway down a small hill, filled in behind, and started planting the new flat area. Large stepping stones at intervals keep groundcovers from filling in where I need to stand and reach other areas.
If it had been a bigger hillside I'd've done a series of tiers but for my area it was enough to have a top bottom and middle of flat strips; the remaining sloped area became reachable from the flat parts. But the main thing is it was just easy, no major excavating, no great expense since i scrounged a big percentage of the flat rocks, in exchange for an increase of planting area and no more having topsoil washing away to slope's bottom or plants at mid-slope not getting enough water. Even just an occasional mini-terrace six or eight feet wide, three or four feet deep, at intervals, would give you perching spots, and once the stone walls got mossy it looks like bits of a ruin of an old city sticking out of tel.
-paghat the ratgirl
--
visit my temperate gardening website:
http://www.paghat.com.html
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"kzin" wrote:

There are many books on this topic.
http://landscaping.about.com/cs/hardscapefences1/gr/garden_terraces.htm
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On 4/5/2008 7:53 AM, kzin wrote:

To start, read about My Hill at <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_back.html#hill . As noted there,My Hill is steep enough that I have actually fallen off.
Terracing might be a bad idea, depending on your soils and geology. A terrace might trap enough rain to cause a slope failure. I just added up the cost of repairing my latest slope failure (happened in 2005, repairs finished early this year): slightly over $150,000. And I'll still be paying on the loan for the first repair (16 years ago) until next February. And NO, there is no such thing as insurance for such casualties.
The repair included a concrete brow-line V-ditch across the slope, feeding into a down-slope V-ditch that empties into a drain line in a catch box. There are four buried drain lines at different levels of the slope, emptying into two other drain lines. At 12 inch intervals up the slope, Geogrid (an extremely heavy plastic mesh) was laid 7 feet into the slope. This is a slope about 30 feet high and 80 feet wide on a standard residential tract lot (less than 1/4 acre total, including the pad for my house).
After the repair, I had a landscape contractor plant a ground cover, using started plants and not seeded hydromulch. These were planted through jute netting, which was anchored to the slope.
I was warned against planting trees. In a wind, a tree will rock back and forth, breaking up the surface soil and creating an easy path for rain to penetrate to the subsoil, lubricating the interface with the surface soil and allowing the surface to slide away. Despite the Geogrid, this advice remained in effect.
Climbing My Hill is a major effort. When I do it, I try to accomplish several tasks to minimize repeat visits. I always pull some weeds, laying them down across the slope to provide a mulch. However, the jute netting should actually suffice until the ground cover is well established.
I water My Hill deeply but only once in two weeks. (I watered several times each day right after the ground cover was planted.) By allowing the surface to become quite dry, I discourage weed seeds from sprouting and becoming established.
The new landscaping repeats what I had before. It looks very good when established. One difference between now and previously involves using Rhaphiolepis 'Majestic Beauty' and Westringia fruticosa (false or coast rosemary) in place of Nerium oleander; oleanders are dying across southern California from an epidemic blight. Another difference is that a third grape vine -- 'Flame' -- is now in the center-top of the slope; the slope never failed where grapes were planted. Once the plants are established and the ground cover is thick enough to discourage weeds, the only maintenance will be tending the grape vines.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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"David E. Ross" wrote:

No photos?
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On 4/5/2008 11:26 AM, Sheldon wrote:

I'm waiting until the ground cover becomes established and has spread. Right now, the V-ditches and drain lines are quite ugly.
The ground cover will eventually grow over the drain lines and hide them. I'm going to let the ground cover grow into the down-hill V-ditch, not only to hide it but also to trap leaves and other debris that would otherwise land in the catch box at the bottom and block the grill that leads to a drain line. As for the browline (cross-hill) V-ditch, I'll let enough ground cover grow into it to hide the uphill side, which looks like a wall; but I'll have to keep the ground cover off the bottom of that V-ditch so that it will indeed drain.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Would be nice to have before and after photos... after photos don't have nearly so much value without the before photos... would be nice to have something to compare.
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Cargo net.

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