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Landscaping & Design/HIllside - Clay - Rocks


Behind my house is a hill that is fairly steep - you can't push a wheelbarrow up the hill or walk without walking at an incline.  The area is shaded with filtered sunlight.  It also has a lot of shale rock and it is clay, has a lot of Poplar trees.  I have planted azalea's, liriope, hostas, and a few other plants for shade.  Only the azalea's and hostas's have survived.  It is very dry and when it rains it is like a flood, however, I did put in a drainage wall with piping so that my patio is not washed out.  Here is the question, is there anything I can do to this bank without spending thousands?  


First,that hill looks pretty stripped of vegetation and so look into planting some shade tolerant,soil holding ground cover,preferably something that can also act to slow the water down on the hill as that may be a contributing factor to the flooding. When the water is slowed down on a hill,more of it has time to soak into the soil and therefore the flooding will be reduced.

The roots of the ground cover will also make the soil more porous and lessen runoff on the slope. Various types of cover crops are well adapted to performing this function.

There is probably an abundance of leaves and twigs on the slope. Till that into the soil. This will increase the porosity of the clay and aid in the infiltration of water into the slope and provide a more fertile soil for the plants you wish to place there. Wattles (rolls of straw) could be staked to the slope and used to slow down the water. Fescue grass is very shade tolerant and so you might want to consider that.

Is enough water being carried away at the foot of the slope. You say you have a wall and pipe there but simply a drainage pipe may not be adequate. A channel able to accept a high flow volume and carry the water away quickly could be a better solution. This could include a trench drain,ditch or swale. Good luck. Let me know if I can be of further help.

Mark Harshman  

Landscaping & Design

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Design of landscape structures and design of planting arrangements in the landscape. I usually do not answer questions of a horticultural nature or about growing plants or gardening unless they are related to design. I will answer these questions at my discretion. I will answer maintenance questions at my discretion,usually when they are related to design. I am a landscape designer. I am not a contractor or a gardener. Although I will describe how something is built I do not provide detailed installation or construction instructions. Here are example categories of problems I can help you with: Design of residential walks,low walls,low retaining walls,fences,drainage systems,arbors,plant selection,xeriscapes (low water use landscapes),rain garden design,rain water harvesting,permeable paving,sustainable drainage. No advise on an architectural or engineering level. I DO NOT PERFORM ACTUAL DESIGN WORK THROUGH THIS SITE. I only provide suggestions and advice. For more comprehensive help check out my website at:


Landscape concept plan for a 30,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by pace measurements and photographs and a site analysis and a site analysis report and recommendations and a preliminary cost estimate. Design elements included canopy trees,shrub cover,accent flowers,trash receptacles,benches and planters. Landscape concept plan for a 7,000 square feet site for a community center. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs,a site analysis and the creation of 3 conceptual designs for the site. Work was done through a local professional design center. Design elements included tree garden,playground,sitting area,lawn,cooking area,lighting and concrete and brick paving. Landscape concept plan for a 3,000 square feet housing site. Involved site recon by tape measurements and photographs and a site analysis. Concluded in 3 concept designs for the site,shown at a formal presentation,a site analysis and recommendations. Work was done through a community volunteer program. Design elements included decks,a playground and fencing. Briefly as draftsman for landscape designer/gardener. Conceptual landscape design for residence. Involved site recon by tape and pace measurements and site analysis. Design included covered patio area,ground cover and flower beds. Two years experience as draftsman for transportation department in engineering firm and for engineering consultants to phone company. Duties consisted of plotting topography. Survey crew member. General assistant to surveyor. Work was done for U.S. Army and County Highway Department. No instrument work. Duties included tape measurement,holding graduated survey rod and plumb bob for sighting and clearing brush. Marketed Landscape Design Services. Brochure writing,promotional material and marketing graphics.

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