Grass won't grow on hill and it erodes - advice?

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We are at a loss here! This is on the side of our house (faces NE). Our property goes up to the Bradford Pear trees and rock line. ... the play area is ours, and is very important to us since we have a 4 and 6yr old.
The first challenge is that we are in a low area, so this hill gets a beating with erosion. In the summer, it gets mid day sun, but the Bradford Pear trees to shade a good bit of it so Bermuda grass has no chance. We have put down (haphazardly) cedar chips under the play set which does the job... the area at the base of the hill and the far side of the play set is what is CRYING for help!
We do not want to get rid of the BP trees.. they offer quite a nice level of privacy w/our neighbors.
q grass won t grow on hill and it erodes advice, gardening, landscape
q grass won t grow on hill and it erodes advice, gardening, landscape
  20 answers
  • Mike and Anne Mike and Anne on Jan 29, 2012
    From the shadows it appears there is not a lot of sun in the area you are attempting to grow grass. With a steep hillside slope on a northeast bank and trees at the top of the bank it is going to take very good soil preparation and either laying sod or having the area slit seeded to make have grass produce a deep enough root system to prevent erosion. Bentgrass, Zoysiia and Centipede are the more shade tolerant grasses.

  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jan 29, 2012
    This photo was taken late afternoon today.. so it gets more afternoon sun in the winter, more mid day sun in the summer. The vast majority of the late afternoon shade is because of the house (which is immediately to the right - i took these photos from our back deck) Slit seeded .. new term for me.. will google that..

  • Although I am not real big on exterior ideas, What about putting in tiers of retaining walls with steps? The curved style lends itself to a very nice design. If erosion is the main cause perhaps a catch basin near the top and perhaps somewhere part way down to help catch the eroding water that runs down the hill?

  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jan 29, 2012
    There are already 2 retaining walls for the "worst" areas and they are also mulched. The challenge to doing more, or re-designing to extend them across is the hill is A) would be near impossible to get our lawn mower out of the shed to the top of the hill and B) the kids walk this hill daily. Challenging :( The erosion is wide .. catch basin might be an option, but I believe it would require several because the run off is quite wide.

  • Ricardo B Ricardo B on Jan 29, 2012
    A cascading terraced look would really make your problem disappear. Don't always think in terms of needing mow-able grass everywhere. Multiple terraces would be great for shrubs and/or plantings of flowers, bulbs, or even long-bladed grasses that don't require a lawnmower and would give you something great to view...

  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jan 29, 2012
    Agree..but how does that work when this is the onl available path to bring out our lawn mower.. And my kids to run to the play set?

  • How many hours of sunlight do you get once the trees leaf out? If more than 4ish, you might be able to picture a hillside of creeping blue phlox.

  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) 360 Sod (Donna Dixson) on Jan 30, 2012
    Ok, I am going to go radical on this one. What about you go with the flow. create a slide down that hill with some bridges and fun ropey things for the kids to play on. Do some dry creek beds across and and under the bridges. I have a pretty cool vision in my head! Well, maybe not THIS one, but maybe you can get an idea from it! http://pinterest.com/pin/234890936784842036/

  • Michelle W Michelle W on Jan 30, 2012
    How about a native ground cover that does not need much maintenance. Then, add slightly terraced areas so you can put in a rough flagstone path for the kids.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 30, 2012
    How about some terraces with a sloped brick "path" for mover and kid traffic

  • Ricardo B Ricardo B on Jan 30, 2012
    Becky Sue... pavers or stone pathway leading from one place to another or even a faux dry river bed of sorts that can substitute as a pathway for kids or wagons or mowers or wheel barrows. Just follow the lay of the land. Every piece of property is unique. Five of the eight homes I lived in had dicey slopes with which I had to contend. Every seat-of- my-pants solution I used was unique and couldn't be duplicated anywhere else.

  • Barbara K Barbara K on Jan 30, 2012
    small mixed pebbles, flagstones on top to form a path and edge either side with a perenial garden border of plants that grow in poor soil such as catnip, mixed poppies, daylillys, tiger lillys,mixed grasses,mums etc.

  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jan 30, 2012
    Some good ideas here! Guess I was hoping for an easy solution and there may not be one! I need to additionally add that we do not plan to stay in the house, so every penny spent is not likely to be recovered. Several of the fabulous solutions of the paths, etc. sound so fantastic, but Id be afraid to price the materials out! I am lucky my husband works cheap :) Sharing a few other pictures to give a bigger picture!

  • Aleta S Aleta S on Jan 30, 2012
    I would put rocks and boulders as a retaining wall, and have sedum ground covers peeping through. Plant perennials such as black eyed susans, and echinecia cone flowers, ladys mantle, and other various plants that adapt to sun or shade.

  • Ricardo B Ricardo B on Jan 31, 2012
    Just thinking here that Thrift would be a great little slow creeping ground cover that also provides a dazzling splash of purpley little flowers in the spring. It likes to grow up, around and between stone, rocks and such which would soften up any stark effect of hard-scaping.

  • Michelle W Michelle W on Jan 31, 2012
    BeckySue - try Craigslist Farm & Garden section. Also, it looks like you have a Georgia Native Plant Society. They have plant sales and are a great resource for plants and ideas.

  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jan 31, 2012
    Need to share all this with my husband.. will let you know what we decide! Thank you ALL for so much insight!

  • Dee Dee on Apr 28, 2015
    Groundcove

  • Dee Dee on Apr 28, 2015
    Groundcover like myrtle(periwinkle). It stays green all year, lives in sun or shade, needs no real maintenance and can be spread out thin so you don't have to purchase so much. Just fertilize the first year and it will fill in by the second. A dry creek bed good idea for mower as pavers or brick will get slippery if in shade. Get a local tree guy to drop off some wood chips, many guys will do this for free as they have to get rid of them. A six pack is all they'll require to give you a big load of chips

    • Bonny McDaniel Bonny McDaniel on Jun 29, 2015
      @Dee Good idea on the periwinkle aka Vinca minor. I would suggest the varigated variety. I have both and the solid green leafed one can get sooty mildew during wet weather and doesn't tolerate sun as well as the varigated variety.

  • Wanda sinnema Wanda sinnema on Jul 02, 2015
    my preference would be quite different. since its a slope.. its hard to play on also.. a future thought might be to level the play area by the retaining wall, connecting the two.. or even just level it to make a terrace of 1 wide step about 3 ft wide, 2stack high. side to side, repeat I'd fill in the lower spots with soil from the slope. It would give a better play space, more defined play space. Since you already have stack wall, I'd use those and continue the look started. I'd move the rocks that act as a divider to the far L flowerbeds for border. Some ground covers are hard to keep looking neat and free from leaves and debris as the seasons change.Some are also Not designed to be played on.. and attract bees with their flowers,, another consideration. i am not familiar with the types of grasses that grown well in your area.. check locally on that one.. What is just out of view in the upper R side.. If its the front of the house or the back..this can be a great area for all the family.