The exterior of our homes is something most of us overlook because we spend time furnishing the interior. You can give your outdoor space similar treatment through landscaping. Landscaping involves modifying land features using living, natural, and artificial elements.

When your property is located on an uneven plot of land or has a slope, landscaping becomes tricky. Such areas will require care to be able to create a safe, functional, and attractive home.

To achieve the best results with your landscaping project, you need to come up with goals and hire a landscaper to execute them. The Landscape Expert in Orange County, CA, takes your goals and creates a landscaping scheme to transform mundane lawns into beautiful and classy outdoor living spaces.

What is Slope Retention?

The inclining nature of slopes makes them difficult to maintain. A little disturbance affects the stability of these slopes exposing them to erosion by wind and water. Slope retention is a permanent intervention for restoring and upholding the integrity and stability of a slope to prevent erosion and make it easier for maintenance.

Slope retention in your home prevents unwanted accumulation of mud. When too much mud accumulates on the side of buildings, it exerts weight, which gradually weakens these structures. Employing slope retention techniques is both a practical and aesthetic consideration for home and business owners in hilly areas.

Important Considerations for Slope Retention

Before conducting a slope retention project, there are a few things, you should take into account.

  1. Hiring the right Landscaper  

Slope retention requires experienced hands and specialized tools for efficiency. Hire a landscaper who has experience in handling slope retention tasks. They should guide you through the process; thus, ensuring that your project goes as you intended. 

The landscaper you choose should be available to answer your questions and work with your plan. Make sure that they create a schedule of when and how they will handle your project so that they are able to complete your project. Ensure that they also provide cleaning services after completing the project.

  1. Conducting a Site Analysis 

Your landscaper should conduct a site analysis to determine the climate, soil type, the suitability of native or exotic vegetation, the nature of the slope, and the slope’s aspect. Through the analysis, the landscaper is better equipped to determine the most appropriate methods of slope retention.

  1. Local Wildlife

When you choose to plant on your slope, take into account the local wildlife. Use plants that animals, such as rabbits, do not feed on. This will save your vegetation from destruction by these animals.

Similarly, the plants you choose should be resistant to most pests and diseases. Resistant plants require minimal maintenance and replacement.

Components of Slope Retention

A good slope retention project should include biological and mechanical components.

  • The biological component includes the use of vegetation cover for slope protection. Vegetation plays a key role in preventing soil erosion through their root systems. They also provide a covering for plants with shallow roots. Strong vegetation provides reinforcement to the slope;

  • The mechanical (structural) component includes the construction of support features such as retaining walls.

For a successful slope retention project, combining the two elements is the best option.

Slope Retention Techniques

Slope retention techniques are permanent measures applied on disturbed slopes to prevent further damage and restore them. The most common ones include soil stabilization, building retention walls, terracing, stone pitching, and using plants.

  1. Soil Stabilization

Sometimes, the soil on the slope in your property could be weak leading to its disintegration. Such soil is not suitable for construction. Soil stabilization includes all the measures taken to enhance its physical properties. Soil stabilization focuses on the strengthening of soil and reducing soil erosion.

Soil stabilization can precede slope retention procedures such as the construction of retainer walls, which require a firm and stable foundation both for construction and slope retention practices.

Soil stabilization methods are either chemical or mechanical.

Chemical stabilization involves the use of chemicals to trigger reactions with soil particles. These chemical reactions alter the physical structure of the soil. Some of the products used in chemical stabilization include cement, lime, and bitumen. These chemicals react with the soil, sealing off the spaces between the soil particles, thus, reducing its permeability.

Mechanical soil stabilization involves the use of physical methods to change the physical structure of the soil. It involves methods such as compaction, use of barriers, nailing, and induced vibrations.

  1. Terracing

If your property has a steep hill, you can employ terracing as a technique to create terraced gardens where you can plant vegetables, creepers, perennial, and annual vegetation.

Terraces are a soil conservation measure applied on slopes. Terraces are usually built horizontally across the slope. The terraces form beds, which reduce erosion, giving the vegetation time to grow and hold together soil particles. Terraces can be either bench, contour, or parallel (channel) terraces. Factors that affect the choice of the type of terrace include the nature of the slope, the distribution, and depth of topsoil, the amount and distribution of rainfall, and the types of crops to be planted.

Terraces serve three main functions:

  • Controlling surface runoff,

  • Creating cultivable land, and

  • Controlling soil erosion.

Landscapers working on slopes may build terraces upon which they plant ornamental plants. Concrete, wood, bricks, rocks, and biomechanical materials are commonly used in terracing.

While you can dig the terraces yourself, it is best to hire a professional landscaper. A landscaper will guide you on the right size of terraces depending on the nature of the slope.  In addition, they will recommend the best terrace design that suits your landscaping goals.

  1. Stone pitching

Stone pitching entails interconnecting broken pieces of stone or hard-core. Sand mortar and cement hold the stones together to create a strong wall. Stone pitching is ideal for steep slopes. It blends well with the landscape and gives the slope a strong covering, which can withstand high velocities of water. Stone pitching is also used in the creation of almost level surfaces that can serve as upland paths.

Flood-prone areas and slopes with heavy seepage problems are ideal grounds for the application of stone pitching.

Before stone pitching starts, the landscaper will cut back the soil to create the right amount of slope. From there, the soil is stabilized through compaction and stone pitching begins. First, a layer of concrete is applied to the slope and the stones placed with the flattest side facing the slope. The process continues until the required area is covered. The process ends with cleaning and curing.

In case you want to add vegetation into the wall, notify the landscaper so that they leave spaces for adding vegetation. Creepers can work well to supplement stone pitching.

  1. Retaining walls

Retaining walls are artificial structures designed to reduce the flow of water or soil from a slope. Retaining walls need to be strong enough to withstand pressure from debris washing down the slope. Retaining walls are especially ideal in slopes likely to experience slope failure. There are different types of retaining walls grouped depending on their performance mechanisms and the materials used in their construction. They include:

  • Dry stone masonry walls in which stones of different sizes are placed on top of each other to make a wall. These retaining walls are the cheapest to build and when done correctly, provide stability for a long time;

  • Cement masonry walls, which are gravity structures made from good quality stones, cement, and sand;

  • Gabion walls, which are made from galvanized iron wire mesh and rocks, or broken concrete, that cannot fit through the spaces in the mesh;

  • Gravity retaining walls depend on their own weight to support the slope. They are made from wedges of high volume materials stacked together;

  • Cantilevered retaining walls, which are made from steel-reinforced concrete.

  • Sheet pile retaining walls made from steel, wood planks or vinyl. They are applicable in areas with soft soils and tight corners;

  • Bored pile retaining walls. These are made from bored piles assembled in a sequence. They are used in similar situations as sheet piles;

  • Anchored retaining walls, which feature added strength through the use of anchors, mechanical means, cables, pressurized concrete that is injected into material used to build the wall.

Materials used in the construction of retaining walls include concrete, concrete with stone veneer, precast stackable blocks, bricks, stones, boulders, timber, and natural stone. Whatever material is used, the foundation should be strong to withstand pressure should slope failure occur. In addition, walls meant for holding soil only should have a working drainage system to prevent structural damage by water.

Retaining walls are ideal in controlling silt and soil erosion. Like terraces, they can serve as gardening areas. Retaining walls provide raised beds on which you can install garden units.

Plants to Maintain Slope Stability

The root system of plants on slopes holds together the soil particles and minimizes erosion.  On most steep slopes, plants hardly take root due to the gradient of the slope. This does not mean you cannot find vegetation that will thrive on the slopes. There are plants that can withstand the harshness of steep slopes, without needing a lot of maintenance. 

Planting on a slope adds to the beauty of the surrounding by eliminating the barren and unproductive look of bare slopes. Before planting on a slope, you need to take an assessment of the slope and plan adequately. Planning is crucial in the identification of slope preparation practices required before planting for example terracing. Remember that slopes are delicate. Therefore, do not till them to avoid loosening the soil. 

Here are some plants to use for slope retention.

  1. Shrubs

Shrubs provide anchorage for soils on slopes especially if they have a deep root system. Low maintenance shrubs are the best. Some of the common shrubs planted on slopes include Dwarf forsythia, golden St. John's wort, Cutleaf stephanandra, Chenault coralberry, ‘Grow-low’ sumac, and ‘Sixteen Candles’ summersweet.

Choose shrubs that grow at the same rate and remove perennial weeds. Also, add humus and mulch to retain moisture. Remember to constantly add moisture to the soil without causing runoff, through drip irrigation.

  1. Flowers

Planting flowers on a slope will add aesthetic beauty to your property. Like for shrubs, the flowers you plant should have deep root systems to hold the soil together. Some of the flowers for your slope include Purple Queen Bougainvillea, Scentsation Honeysuckle, Azaleas, violets, daylilies, roses, and Russian sage.

  1. Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are primarily used to add beauty to your slope. The common ones include the Canada wild rye, the little bluestem, the red fescue, and the switchgrass.

  1. Evergreens

Evergreens will keep your slope looking green throughout. Some suitable evergreen includes the blue-chip juniper, the Siberian cypress, and the Huber’s tawny gold spreading yew.

  1. Grasses

Grasses are resilient plants and can survive on slopes. Suitable grasses include Elijah blue fescue, the morning light maiden, and the redhead fountain grasses.

Why Invest In Slope Retention?

Slope retention is beneficial, not only for maintaining the integrity of the slope but also for the aesthetic appeal of your property. Below are some reasons why you should invest in slope retention.

First, slope retention increases the value of your property: Landscaping is an investment in your business. When you invest in landscaping the slopes in your property, you add to their value socially and economically. A landscaped property rises in value compared to similar properties.

Socially, you get to have calm and beautiful surroundings as you spend time with your friends, family, business associates, and customers.

Second, slope retention increases the functionality of your yard: When your property has a steep slope, slope retention adds functionality to the land by converting the slope into a usable ground. For instance, you can create beautiful areas or gardens with the slope retention option you choose.

Third, slope retention techniques are usually low maintenance and designed for durability. These techniques aim at protecting the slope from deteriorating. Therefore, slope retention focuses on techniques that will minimize interference by humans. For example, well-built terraces last a long time with very little maintenance. This means that you will enjoy the beauty of your property without spending all your time maintaining it.

Finally, slope retention is eco-friendly: Slope retention is achieved by preventing soil erosion. This makes the techniques friendly to the environment by, for example, preventing erosion of soil to a nearby stream.

Find a Landscaping Company Specializing in Slope Retention Near Me

The Landscape Expert understands all the aspects of slope retention and is ready to guide you through the planning and execution of your ideas. Call us today at 714-855-3479 for any landscaping services in and around Orange County, California.