Sloped yards can be a challenge, especially when they wash away in rainy weather. Rather than allowing his front yard to continue crumbling and covering his sidewalk, a homeowner decided to call the experts at Ask This Old House for help. With the newest team member, Lee Gilliam, eager to get to work, Jenn Nawada heads out on a road trip to solve this homeowner’s problem.
It Could Be the Mulch
If you’ve heavily mulched the slope in the front yard, there’s a good chance there’s too much mulch. Look for around 2 inches of mulch to retain moisture. Remove any existing mulch and put it aside for later use or recycle it into another part of the yard.
Look for Hardscape to Act as an Anchor
Look around the property for any existing stones that can be used to anchor the material in place. This could be large boulders or field stone, which is often found along the property lines between homes.
Place these stones randomly across the slope to make it look natural while also weighing down the existing soil.
Aerate the Soil
Use a rototiller to aerate the soil in the front yard. This will help with planting and break up any roots that could be in the way. The goal is to dig about 8 inches deep to loosen up compacted soil.
Choose the Right Plants
Choose the right plants to keep your soil in place. Species such as Vinca, Andromeda, and similar plants have foliage and root systems that will help keep the soil in place. Plant them in groups of threes and in triangles for a more natural look. Dig a hole a little bigger than the root ball, remove the plants from their containers, loosen their roots, and plant them in the holes.
Put about two inches of mulch down around all of the plants and stones. Mulch will help retain moisture while also preventing weeds from growing so readily. Reuse the existing mulch or get fresh mulch (it should be changed every other year or so anyway).
Water, Water, Water
Water the plants every day for about two weeks. After two weeks, cut back to watering every other day for three weeks. After that, the slope is ready, and the plants should begin establishing themselves, preventing runaway soil and mulch in the future.
Lee and Jenn work together to refresh a homeowner’s eroding sloped yard by removing excess mulch and installing boulders and ground cover plants.
Lee and Jenn find a landscape solution for a homeowner dealing with an over-mulched, under-loved, sloped front yard.
To start, Lee and Jenn use shovels to carefully dig up existing plants to be replanted.
To get rid of the excess mulch, Lee and Jenn raked down the mulch into manageable piles to be recycled elsewhere.
To relocate the boulders, Lee and Jenn use a tree dolly.
To aerate the soil, Lee uses a rototiller. This will prep the soil for the new plantings. A rototiller can be found at a local home store.
After staging, they use shovels to dig and plant the ground cover and other selected plants. Lee suggests planting in threes for a more natural look.
To help the newly added plants thrive, Jenn adds organic plant food to the soil when backfilling.