Natives to stabilize and cover steep slope(pic included)

greenhaven(SW MI z6)September 6, 2010


I hope this is not a redundant post, but I did do a search and did not find anything very helpful.

Location: north-central Illinois, very dry and steep slope, facing north but catches a little sun (more towards the bottom, naturally.)

I have a client that has a steep slope overtaken by invasives and trees that block the view. She cleared the slope and cut back the trees, then I planted 5 Hypericum calmianum and 3 Rhus aromatica 'LoGro.' Of course this year we had record flooding of the river and the shrubs all went underwater for almost two weeks. :/

She wants to stabilize the bank, provide food and shelter for wildlife, NOT block the view, and NOT use any chemicals to control the aggressive natives and non-natives. She has particular pressure from yellow passion vines, black raspberries, and wild grape. At the top, up in the yard, crown vetch is the monster we are battling.

Who can offer some help and suggestions? The biggest logistical issues are controlling the vines while avoiding erosion and establishing appropriate plant material.

In the photo the slope to the left of the deck (while facing the slope)will have stairs leading from the top to the bottom.

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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Did your shrubs survive being flooded? Those are probably two good choices, especially the sumac. You could also try some of the shrubby dogwoods, such as silky-leaved, or potentilla fruticosa, native or hybrids. Lonicera diervilla is somewhat stoloniferous and tough, just not very showy. You might have to make some small horizontal plateaus or planting spots, supported by rocks or timbers, at least until the shrubs get their roots established. If the client is willing to spend some money, perhaps you should consider some permanent terracing, perhaps at least two levels. This will help the erosion problem and give a much better place for the plants to live, since the terraces will hold the moisture as well as keep the soil in place. The supports do not have to be fancy, just do their job.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2010 at 11:40AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I would recommended a mix of native grasses and wildflowers that can tolerate both inundation and drought. I would recommend that you use a netted straw blanket, to hold the seed and soil in place until it can get established. In your case, I may use a permanent to semi-permanent soil stabilization matrix... or I would use a hydroseed with sticky mulch. Its a specialty application, its not real expensive but you do need to find someone who knows what they are doing, because if its not installed correctly it won't work and would be a waste of money.

I'm not sure who the local sales rep. is for Ero-tex in your area, but you can go to their web site, fill out a form and request an onsite consultation. Their sales rep should be able to hook you up with a local contractor who knows what they are doing.

I don't work for this company, but I've used their expertise and find them to be very knowledgeable.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ero-tex

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 11:03PM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

Oh, I am SO sorry I haven't gotten back sooner! Ii KNEW I would forget I posted here.

ontnative, I have actually already used the timber/rock support idea with tremendous success. When I was clearing out the grape and passion vine again I didn't realize I was tugging on a sumac right away...they rooted FAST! It looks like most if not all survived the flooding.

Showy doesn't matter so much, but flowers would be nice. She is more concerned about habitat. We definitely can't consider large-scale terracing at this time.

joepyeweed, I like the idea of a netted straw blanket. I also wanted to see her use some grasses on that slope,especially Chasmanthium latifolium, but am REAL nervous about controlling the naughties especially without chemicals. I just can't get past the thought that when I rip out vines I would be uprooting all the good stuff, too.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 9:38PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

You could also do some small terracing with coir logs. Its much easier to install than traditional soil/rock terraces.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:22PM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

That is a GREAT idea..I will look into the cost of that, which has to be cheaper than big, permanent terracing.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 2:07PM
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