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Front Slope Transformation

Front Slope Transformation

From nasty to gorgeous for less than $1000

January is a month that drives us towards inward introspection. It is a time to plan and prepare for the warmth of the growing season. Hopefully this post will inspire you to take actions in your own landscape.This project was an overgrown, weedy front slope.  It was covered with invading English ivy, over grown juniper, and pachysandra. A lone Joe-pye weed towered over the bank.  The soil is dry shale with hardly any organic matter. Sara, our very own arborist, is the owner and designer. After three months of meticulously cleaning the front slope, Sara decided to see if our little 98 starter plugs could tackle the project. A mix of grasses and perennial bloomers were chosen including some experimental species like shore little bluestem (Schizachyrium littorale) and downy goldenrod (Solidago puberula), both shown in the slider below.

The little 98s rooted in quickly. In the first year, the new plants were solidly established. In their second year, they were nearly full size. No mulch was required as plants were installed more or less on 1 sq.ft. centers.  A ladder was used during the installation for easy access on the shaly slope.

Sara remarks, “I think (the 98s) are a fantastic way to get a plant that can grow to almost full size within a growing season. The plants covered the ground by the end of the season. I have continued to weed, but the weed pressure is not what I expected.”  Excellent!

For less than $1000, and a whole lot of labor, Sara was able to completely transform that gnarly bank into a permanent art installation. The neighbors and family members remark on the beauty of the swaying grasses and the colorful flowers. In addition, the amount of pollinating insects and native insects is amazing to watch. The birds love the seeds in the winter. Very little maintenance is required. Cutting back a few tall old flowering/seeding stems in the spring when new growth is evident is all that is needed.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. It sounds wonderful. Please post a photo this summer so we can see it in full bloom. Also, what to do when the miserable Canadian thistle decides to settle in with it’s untamable underground army. Can you offer suggestions to overcome this problem? Thank you.

    1. Sandy, yes, Canadian thistle can become a huge problem. The best defense seems to be keeping the soil covered at all times to help reduce seed germination. Thistle seed, like aspen seed and other pioneer species seed, seems to prefer germinating on bare, mineral soils. Keeping the soil covered with leaves or dead plant detritus seems to help. Diligence is required in the meantime, plucking out thistle, stilt grass, swallow wort, and other unwanted guests.

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