Erosion Control

By Mark S. Olson of GardenCrafters Landscape & Design

New homeowners moving to the foothills should modify their methods of landscaping to plan for erosion control and fire protection. And while this should be kept in mind, it does not rule out having a beautiful landscape.

Often your new home is on a lot that has hilly terrain, native vegetation and large boulders. Every item has its purpose, yet some people are tempted to strip the ground bare for fire protection. By indiscriminately removing everything, you are creating a potentially serious erosion condition in an area that can receive over 30 inches average rainfall in a short winter season.

You can lose your valuable top soil, create damaging gullies, cause problems for your neighbors down slope of you and most importantly, create a problem for your own home by possibly undermining the support structures. Even poorly directed downspouts can cause an erosion problem.

There are a few simple procedures you can utilize to help protect your home from brush fire and erosion.

For erosion control, you can mulch heavily and plant fast growing ground covers and shrubs to cover exposed ground. In the most severe cases you may want to consider using an erosion control fabric. Hydro-seeding with a wildflower mix would be a short term yet effective solution.

For fire protection it is recommended that you keep a buffer zone of 30 feet between your house and the native vegetation. Within that 30 foot zone, use plants that will tolerate more water and
are considered fire resistant.

Think of your property as a series of circles with your house being the center circle. In each extending circle as you move outward from the house, plant with more and more drought resistant plants.

Keep coniferous trees away from your house as they are more flammable and present a danger by overhanging branches and debris on the roof. Keep the area around your home clear of litter from trees and consider pruning all the native tree and shrubs to keep a buffer zone between the ground and the foliage.

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