Steep backyard landscaping
Two years ago I relocated to Charlotte, NC where not many yards are flat. I have advance osteoarthritis from breaking all of my joints in a car accident in '78 as well as a pretty painful case of Fibro. Who knows what else, I just hurt. Those of you who experience pain, KNOW- it doesn't matter what it is called, it just hurts. Now for the topic.
I finally found a home with a relatively flat front yard and driveway. A fence separates the back yard into two sections. The forward "backyard" section is relatively flat and I hope to put in a garden pond, flower beds, & patio, eliminating grass. There is already a deck. The "back area" back yard is a steep 35 degree downward angle. The ground is mostly clay but about 13 years developed, so it has earthworms, etc. When I moved in I strategically placed a few crepe myrtles and Mimosas (I know- most of you hate them- but heck- I grew up in the south and love them :-P) which are of good size now. The back fence is COVERED in 13 years of honeysuckle and virginia creeper. The 14 yr old next door cuts the grass but I always have a hodge-podge of nasty 4-6' weeds along the edges or popping up in the middle.
Next year he will not be available for yard work, and I am planning ahead. What to do?
I have considered covering everything in the back area in landscape fabric after a final short buzz and piling on pine needles... maybe planting flowers in clusters and adding a raised vegetable garden up close to the highest area. I'm not sure what is practical. Honestly, I use the "forward" section of the back yard exclusively, so eliminating growth from the backyard would end the need for paying lawn maintanence and also allow me freedom to plant flowers. With severe ankle and joint pain I dread the idea of sliding on pine needles on an angle. I also don't want to lose all the grass roots if my yard will erode. After living at the beach, I think of things like that- is it a possible disaster?
I considered adding landscape timbers for stairways but I think I may eventually regret it (plus- who can LIFT those darned things?). Instead, I'd probably go with a softer look of patio blocks spaced for safe walking, to match those used in another area, set in pine needles. I have been planting soft Butterfly gardens in the front and need to reflect that look.
The bottom line is, I have two small dogs who will use the back section but I will rarely go back there except to carefully hobble down the yard to cut back some noxious weed which pops up. I want LOW to NO Maintanence in the Back section.
My deck extends out in the middle, overlooking the back area, so it would be fine to have something plain and uniform other than grass/crabgrass/weeds/ all mixed together and fighting to unevenly grow. The weeds here are amazingly fast-growing and I personally think grass is overrated, so does anybody have any advice? Thanks!