2012-10-22

Hillside planting plan

My back hillside is a mess, but hopefully it will be getting better.  The house and former pool deck look out over a city lights view that I could see and envision when I first looked at the house.  In fact, it was a deciding factor in the purchase of this house.

Here's a recent pre-dawn photo from my phone camera, through a window, and looking east.


Unfortunately, the former owners let their California Pepper tree run amok and its root, sprouts, and progeny infiltrated the hillside along with volunteer ash trees (another on the Do-Not-Plant-in-California list), a series of overgrown Oleanders, a volunteer palm tree or two, and more junk plants.

Last year around this time, full of enthusiasm and wanting to boldly check spread of the pepper tree and replace it with appropriately-sized natives, I made a series of mistakes which led to accidentally pruning (to the ground) across the property line, which runs at an odd diagonal angle up the back slope.  It looked terrible at first (but grew back just like I said it would).  Unfortunately, the neighbor seemed to think that this was an opportunity for profit and ended up with a settlement from my homeowner's insurance and I ended up with an eyesore fence on the property line that I protested, but was forced to accept.

So last year's planting plans came to a disappointing and grinding halt as I waited for the situation to resolve. I was depressed to have made the amateur mistakes of over enthusiasm that led to total garden work stoppage.  One thing I did do right, however, was to call Ric Dykzeul, a local garden designer.  He came over and assessed the hill and made some recommendations based on my stated willingness to actively manage the resprouting pepper, oleander, etc. as well as some overall recommendations for the back yard (which is mostly concrete, having been a pool deck before the pool was filled in).

Here's a plan that he sketched up for half of the back hill that I am slavishly following, mostly. North is up.  My house is to the west and the edge of the concrete patio is the dashed line.  The hillside descends steeply from the dashed line to the east and the plan ends at the property line fence, indicated by lines+X's. The remaining half of the back yard slope is much narrower and we didn't know what form the fence would take, so we didn't plan for that area.