It’s time for the second installment in the transformation of my front slope. If you remember back to my Field Notes post in May, I introduced you “Mt. Davenport”, my Southwest Minneapolis front yard slope. Failing turf and unsafe mowing conditions had become a serious problem for me and my husband. We decided to bring in Field Outdoor Spaces to help us create a space that was beautiful, functional, and safe. In this segment, designer, Shannon O’Halloran discusses her design process for the hardscape portion of the plan. Enjoy! ~ Ann Davenport
By Shannon O’Halloran
Wall stone selected to match the stone surrounding the front door
There are many steep front slopes around the Minneapolis area. The biggest hazard and maintenance issue is mowing the grass on the hill and keeping the turf alive. This is a challenge because of the speed at which water runs off the slope eroding the hillside. The question becomes this, if you remove the turf can you keep the erosion of the hillside from continuing? Will you be creating a larger maintenance issue? I believe the time spent on maintenance will be the same as if you mowed the turf on the hillside but it will be far less dangerous. Picking plants that will hold the soil on the hillside will help with erosion. Creating a design which incorporates rock outcroppings and small walls will slow down the water runoff and allow larger shrubs and trees to be planted, creating visual interest and layers of plant material on the hill.
Boulders for the rock outcroppings
Including the house in the design process is an important factor. The materials selected can complement the house color and style. In the case of the Davenport’s front slope hardscape design, a light wallstone was chosen to match the stone around the entrance of the house. Large boulders were selected to compliment the blue-gray house color, and an accent of wallstone to match the house color. This combination of material and color really brings the house into the landscape.
A section of finished wall using the 3 different types of stone
In creating a design for the slope, the rock walls and outcroppings were placed to create planting pockets that move the eye around the landscape. A boulder “goat path” was included up the slope to increase accessibility to plant material thereby making weeding, watering, and general maintenance on the hill that much easier.
In order to help address issues of runoff and redirect some of the water which historically ran across the top area of the yard and down the slope, a space for a small rain garden was included in the design. Water from the downspout on the corner of the house is directed into the rain garden where it can infiltrate back into the ground. The old sidewalk is replaced with flagstone steppers and a bridge over the rain garden allows for continued access around the house. The second downspout on the front of the house was retrofitted with an oak rain barrel which collects additional runoff from the roof which can easily be used to water plants.
In a future segment, I’ll address the design plan for the remaining area at the top of the slope and foundation plantings.
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