AN UGLY HILL CAN BECOME A THING OF BEAUTY WITH THE RIGHT PLANTS AND BUDGET
Retaining the earth behind a wall is not uncommon manipulation of a slope. After all, when you look at the terraces of the mountainous country in India, the Philippines and throughout Asia, they have been hand engineering natural landscapes for centuries.
This sculpting of the earth is more out of necessity, sustenance, trade and economy than for the aesthetics. But in that graduation of rice paddies, tea plantations and other crops growing on the side of a hill, there is an unintentional beauty in the landscape.
So to, as we start to fill up the flat and easy land and move up the hills do we discover how a mountainside tea plantation might work.
Retaining and terracing are significant works for some homes. Apart from the additional engineering (and cost) of building footings, a mere slope at the side between you and a neighbour can seem to be an insurmountable mountain of your own.
How to cover bare earth that would normally be meters below the normal soil level? When most is shaly or simply dead clay in its geology and is unlikely to grow anything at all.
Terracing is one answer if you have a reasonable budget, also if you can get to the slope before building. Often these landscape features are left to last when the money has run out and a ‘that’ll do’ approach is just what you finish up with next to a fabulous new house.
Grasses like rolls of Zoysia matrella offer some solution to a bald face of earth. This grass needs very little maintenance and on a slope, will provide instant green, manage weeds (mostly) and require a haircut every few months. Grassing in the semi-vertical with a few lines of irrigation could be a good solution.
Other methods of bandaging the face of the batter with coco fibre and pinning it down and making pockets of soil for different plants may work, but has limited success unless you keep at it.
There is no soil profile under the coco fibre and only constant watering and applications of organic matter (like handfuls a good garden mix around each plant will help over time). The choice of plants is also critical. Hardy old numbers like bromeliads, succulents and many of the dracaenas work with some reasonable effort. Avoid needy plants for this job.