Is there any good method to retain moisture in areas that are sloped? I spent quite a bit of time removing rocky lousy soil in areas along my driveway the past few years. To the point I put everything through a mesh screen (1/2 inch grid). The soil that was "approved" or made it through the screen was then mixed with a combination of cow manure and good decomposed wood chips, making it very fertile or so I thought. Problem is no moisture is retained so it dries out too fast. It's one of few areas that gets full sun that I'd like to see flourish.
I've given thought to digging out the soil this spring and placing some plastic sheathing under it? It would be perforated to allow some drainage. Bad or good idea? Areas in question are the tulip area on left of drive and fence line right of drive.
I would not recommend plastic. It becomes a pain in short order because it does degrade and looks nasty once the mulch breaks down. Your best bet is heavy organic mulch, either chips or pine straw. Planting ground grabbing perennials at the front edge of each step, rather than seasonal bedding plants, will help retain topsoil and mulch. If you are wanting seasonal color then plant the seasonal flowers behind low growing perennial ground covers that can spill over the stones. Phlox, creeping thymes, or allysum would be few good examples.
I agree with MayPop - do not use plastic sheeting - it breaks down into a million pieces that are unsightly and is poor for aeration. It also keeps the ground too wet most of the time before it breaks into those million pieces.
Use a mulch - either organic that breaks down adding to the soil or some other inorganic material like gravel. If you don't plan on planting a lot of annuals then I'd recommend a weed cloth, then mulch on top of that. Trees, shrubs, and some perennials are easily added even with weed cloth in place.
Hmmm. good thoughts and thanks. I have seen that stuff falling apart now that I think about it. Laurel, I'm determined to get a ton of petunias going in that area this year. They failed last year in a small test because of the dryness. You should know me by now. Impatient for full and bushy color. Think jungle. My seeded perennials are coming along here and there. Gave up on store bought...most never make it.
Sorry. I don't get the gravel idea. It doesn't absorb.
How about crystal polymers? Seems they do quite well if used properly.
Full and bushy color pics. Expect more Moonflowers this year. I have two trees lined up. Hoping they climb 15 feet.
No, gravel doesn't absorb but it prevents a lot of evaporation. If you do use the water retentive crystal polymers, mix them in thoroughly and go easy on them - they expand greatly when wet and can push plants out of the soil. Why not put in a micro sprinkler system instead? Simple to install, very inexpensive, and a battery operated timer works great!
What about using some small rocks in a row parallel down the grade. Plant in front of each row. I use cut timber for some of my slopes. It eventually breaks down, but keeps soil and plants in place until.
Boy I would love to get an irrigation system in there. After all I have oodles of water only 100 feet away with the creek, but the climb to the dry area is 15 to 20 vertical feet. Stationing some kind of pump is another thing as the creek turns into a small heavy gushing river when it rains. Then there's the power issue. Tree roots, rocks to go through. I do use the creek for lower areas with a small portable pump and hose (pressure won't reach that area). I'm on a shared spring, so connecting to that wouldn't work at the moment (neighbor paranoia with running dry) and it also doesn't have the pressure to get water up there either.
Could dig a well, but finances won't allow at this time.
I wish I was more mechanically inclined by building some kind of powerless water transfer thingie that can climb a hill.
Granted you have the outflow consistently. Unless you plan on storing water higher up the hill in a cistern for dry times. You won't have a need for water when the creek is gushing from rainfall. We pump our water all the way up the hillside from our spring which is down at the pond the cistern is down at the spring too. I've been lobbying for a second cistern, specifically for the garden, up at the house for a while. I have to water the garden in time increments to keep from running our cistern dry. Anything is possible with money.
Your moonflowers are gorgeous, Ken. Mine did terribly this past year.
First year for the moonies. I'm hooked. If I can get this thing going for under $1,000 I'll do it. I'd like to be able to set it up so it will pump into a line of soaker hoses, where I don't need a cistern? Kind of just like turning a valve at the source in the morning, forgetting it and turn it off in the evening.
More research required. I need an interesting project anyway as long as there aren't more than a dozen parts.
The creek gushing concern was more of keeping the system from getting washed away. It's a massive current (loud too) when I get two inches or more quickly.
Progress report. Definitely needs some tweaking but I'll have water this year where I didn't have it before. Guy at Ace Hardware talked me into this gas powered pump and attaching standard garden hoses with several Y connections and sprinklers along a line of about 150 feet. I wanted easy remember? He claims it works great for his fruit trees with six sprinklers, but I need to make improvements to the idea.
It's supposed to provide 40 lbs pressure at 100 foot head, or 150 gallons per minute...but geez Louise I'm only getting about three gallons, probably because I need wider pipe nearer to the Y connections on top of hill. I thought it would put too much strain on the pump...but he sold me the product. I can always take it back if it blows apart. Like I said...tweaking..lot's of it. Nice learning experience.
Btw, the first pic is an area not shown before. New garden areas that gets extremely dry in the summer. Oodles of trailing petunias are ordered.