Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Landscaping Update: The SCARY SLOPE


I wish I had gotten better "BEFORE" pictures, but this is a photo of what we have come to call


It came with the house in Utah we bought last summer. The photo above is after my husband lit into it with a machete. Imagine what it looked like creeping over the sidewalk before that. Most of the slope is hidden behind the trees. Notice you can see a small part of the random rock pile, the stray redish scalloped concrete tree surround pieces in the foreground and the volunteer sumac leaning over the sidewalk. Then call your attention to the tangle of crown vetch cascading down the slope covering over frightening hummocks of overgrown trailing cottoneaster bushes. Now imagine lots of little scampering sounds coming from somewhere deep inside the tangle with the cat from across the street acting as a frequent sentinel and pouncing on things periodically. One of the first things the adjacent neighbor told us when we met him was that he wouldn't mind if we did something with that slope.

All spring I've been spending hours working my way into that mess with loppers and thinning it out. It was just a tangle of long snakey cottoneaster tendrils. Imagine my surprise when I eventually discovered there was some pretty rock terracing under some of it.

After. See my neighbor's house? He's pleased he doesn't have to view that tangle anymore.

This slope really needed some sort of feature to make it interesting. Since my husband wouldn't buy me the huge and expensive natural stone obelisk that I've been admiring at the stone yard, I decided to recycle that heap of rocks and scalloped tree surrounds into terracing for a pathway that would meander up the slope and through an opening in the rose of sharon hedge into the front yard. My son liked taking this secret shortcut when coming home from school even before the trail was built. Here is the new trail (yes, there were that many rocks heaped up on the slope in a pile). The steps are covered in landscape fabric and mulch to keep them looking nice.

The rose of sharon hedge at the top is just starting to leaf out. It will be bloom from late July through frost.
The concept for the landscaping here is to keep it "meadowy" and to incorporate a few plants that will look well in late summer and fall. My friend let me "shop" for plants in her verdant yard. Alongside the trail I've put in several white daisies and a couple of purple aster plants that I'm hoping will naturalize into the grass. I still need to find a bush that will give me nice autumn color and winter berries for the birds for the left side. We planted two dwarf apple trees to shade the slope (and very likely feed the deer).

One of two new dwarf apple trees. The crown vetch is difficult to get rid of, but now that we can actually reach it with a trimmer it will help.
"Secret" entrance through the hedge.
Once the daisies and asters take hold and start to spread there will be flowers along the path softening the hard edges.
Like I mentioned most of these materials were recycled from my own yard. The cost has been $26 for two small bare root apple trees, $5 in mulch purchased from the landfill where they chip up tree branches and trimmings that people drop off, $13 for landscape/weed fabric and $6 for pins to hold the fabric down. And did I mention the MANY hours of hard work?

Totally worth it ☺

We'll be moving soon so it may be years before I see how it all turns out with the plants growing. I'm glad I took the time though.



  1. You ARE superwoman! LOTS of sweat equity! It looks amazing!


  2. Wow! that is a ton of work....but so worth it.
    A wonderful makeover that sounds like it will only get more beautiful each year as the various plants mature.

  3. Beautiful Sue! Kudos to you for all your hard work! Be blessed!

  4. Hard work is good for ya; body, mind and soul! Being frugal is good for the whole family! Posting the cool pix is good for all of us! Thank for the encouragement. You rock (literally).

  5. Sue, you are an absolute landscape magician. I hope you have a condition in the lease that the renters have to do faithful upkeep of your beautiful pathway. For autumn color, I see these beautiful "burning bush" around here. The are so showy in Fall, full of deep crimson leaves. I think our climate is same in WNY as Utah, so I think you'll find them at the garden store.

  6. I did look at burning bushes! We have one by the house and it's such a pretty plant. It's got a very graceful form and is gorgeous in fall. Unfortunately it stays too small for the space on the slope. I wanted something that gets 5-6 ft tall and had lots of berries for the birds.

    Went to the nursery yesterday and looked at bushes for a long time. Ended up getting a type of highbush cranberry. Supposed to have white flower clusters, red fall color and clusters of red cranberries and get to about 6 ft. AND it's tolerant of very low temps which is good here in Utah.