Ask a Question forum: Steep Hillside Full of Grasses and Weeds

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Name: Peaker
Reno, NV
2015 Home Owner
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HillsideOwner
Jul 2, 2016 3:33 AM CST
I bought into a new home in 2015. My workman tells me that the realtor did me a number, with a 2,500 sq. ft. hillside now growing with grasses and weeds. It is becoming a fire hazard as well as unsightly. I figured at the time, it would provide me the op for some light yard work. I never owned a home before. My health failed, and it's now beyond me. Last year, I hired a workman to string trim the grasses, as they were just getting too high. That worked, but with the heavier rain and sun this season, the weeds and all are growing back with a vengeance. I'm 64, with medical conditions, so haven't the energy anymore to deal with it all.

I'm looking at any way that I can find to control the fire hazard and the weeds. I got estimates of $10,000 to 35,000 for landscaping. I'd like it that it's nice to comply with any HOA agreements, and also drought tolerant. I had my small front yard done now for about $900, to place decorative rock and weed fabric, instead of the old, dry, and weed filled lawn. I looked at weed control by smothering, including using carpet. I tried with a tarp, but that didn't work. I don't think laying down weed fabric would also work, with as high as the growth has gotten.

Any suggestions for better and cheaper ways to get what I'm seeking is highly welcome. I don't want to use herbicide, or chemicals. I've looked at concrete as well as hiring workman to dig out the weeds and all, then to put in terracing and decorative rock, with shrubs and trees. I'm on Social Security, so haven't got a lot of money. Please help!
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jul 2, 2016 7:28 AM CST
Welcome to NGA, @HillsideOwner !

I could definitely imagine a lot of potential for that area, but I also imagine it costing a lot of $$$. Hopefully someone with good suggestions will jump in here; if not, there is also a "landscaping forum" where you could possibly find some ideas and help: http://garden.org/forums/view/landscaping/
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Jul 2, 2016 7:30 AM CST
Not using chemicals is a good idea, but sometimes, I think, we gardeners need to use them!
Digging, and other mechanical means, does not always kill the roots of the weeds.
After spraying the weeds and killing the roots of those weeds: then I would seed wild flowers on that slope. Only cost is the herbicide and the wildflower seed.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jul 2, 2016 8:19 AM CST
Have you considered looking around for high school kids looking for summer jobs? You could probably get them to cut the tall weeds with a weed eater for rather less than hiring a professional. I personally would do that, then spray the area with a weed killer with extended control. That buys some time to decide what you really want to do, while getting rid of the fire hazard.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Robyn
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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robynanne
Jul 2, 2016 11:06 AM CST
Do you have many neighbors? I know a lot of people who want to garden, but don't have the space. You could maybe section off the land into garden plots and offer them to neighbors. Tell them they get a free summer (next summer) of garden space if they clear their plot this summer and get it ready. That will prep your area for whatever you want to do the next year, make friends in the community, get rid of the weed, and give people lots of home grown food all for free. They might share their abundance with you as well so, work free garden!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
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porkpal
Jul 2, 2016 12:52 PM CST
I don't suppose the HOA would allow you to put goats out there...?
Porkpal
Name: Celia
West Valley City, Utah (Zone 7a)
Pour vivre parmi les fleurs
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Zencat
Jul 2, 2016 1:07 PM CST
Girl and Boy Scout groups are good places to look for help, too. Just a thought.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Jul 2, 2016 1:58 PM CST
Good idea, Porkpal! Goats would take care of that hillside in short order. I call them organic weed n' feed. Hilarious! Hmmm, wonder if my friend over in Yerington still deals in goats...
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Kathy
Arkansas (Zone 8b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Region: Arkansas Region: Louisiana Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Kathy547
Jul 2, 2016 2:03 PM CST
I feel your pain!!!! We have a similar situation. For years we either burned it or took a weed eater to it. It took nearly all day. My husband is on oxygen & can't do stuff like that anymore. Now, I'm having to deal with erosion, soft spots, & holes dug by dogs & critters. I mow as close as I can with the riding mower then take the field trimmer & get as much from the top as I can. I was trying to get from the bottom but big trucks have made ruts in the ditch & its too difficult. Now I call the county & see if they'll do it whenever they're mowing. I tell them its a safety issue (which it is) because you can't see vehicles over the grass. Here are some pictures I took today just as I got started mowing.


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We live in a rural area & don't have to worry about HOAs. At the hospital in the next town over, they took rocks & covered the whole area. They have chicken wire or something over it to keep it in place. I am seriously thinking about finding what the cost would be for here. The next time I'm over there I'll try to take a picture & post it here.
Here's a couple ideas I like



Minus the steps
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 3, 2016 1:22 PM CST
We use goats on the steep hillsides around here too, for fire prevention. I would at least ask your HOA about it.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Jul 3, 2016 2:06 PM CST
We raised goats for over 25 years, and they were the best little mowers and edgers imaginable. We had an area that was next to the yard, but the ground was so irregular you couldn't possibly use a lawn mower and it was too large an area to easily weed-eat. Turned a few goats in there and in one day it looked nicely mowed. They also help keep weeds in check because they eat a lot of them before they can go to seed.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Jul 3, 2016 4:49 PM CST
Using the goats is really a great idea -- you may not want to (or be able to, due to the HOA) keep your own goats, but I bet you could advertise and find someone with goats who would loan or rent a few to you! Thumbs up
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Name: Daniel Erdy
Catawba SC (Zone 7b)
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ediblelandscapingsc
Jul 3, 2016 5:37 PM CST
10,000 -35,000 wow!!! fly me out there and I'll do it for 9k Hilarious!
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Name: Kathy
Arkansas (Zone 8b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Region: Arkansas Region: Louisiana Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Kathy547
Jul 3, 2016 6:33 PM CST
I thought about goats myself. But how would you keep them off the road? Get one of those screw things for chaining dogs? The goats would eat those plastic leads wouldn't they so you would have to use chain.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jul 3, 2016 6:37 PM CST
Tying the goats would probably be more time-consuming than running a couple of strands of hot wire around the area. If your ground is not impossibly rocky a temporary fence would be easiest.
Porkpal
Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 3, 2016 7:53 PM CST
They rent them here, and they get a goat herder with the goats.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jul 3, 2016 8:24 PM CST
Now that's cool!
Porkpal
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
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plantmanager
Jul 3, 2016 9:10 PM CST
ctcarol said:They rent them here, and they get a goat herder with the goats.

That is great! Is it very expensive?

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Name: Carol
Santa Ana,Ca. (Zone 10b)
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 3, 2016 9:27 PM CST
I have no idea. I live in the basin. The hills and canyons are about 10 mi. south of me. They had a bad fire that swept through Laguna canyon about 20 years ago, and into the city. That was followed by mud slides the following winter. Since then, they decided to clear the brush in that steep canyon at any cost. Seems to work.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
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plantmanager
Jul 3, 2016 9:30 PM CST
It's good they're doing that. We have a lot of steep hills in our areas. Most of them are covered in dry grasses and it's very scary. Renting goats should be something that catches on everywhere. California seems to always do innovative things first.
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