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Landscaping - My Front Slope   -   2004/03/26Viewed 246 times this month, last update: 2005/05/02

My House's yard has four sections, front and back lawn, and two slope areas, front and back. The back slope is elevated, and behind a wall. The front slope goes from the wall around the property all the way down to the front lawn. When I bought the house, this front slope had a vine-like ground cover, that I didn't really like. For a year, I've lived with it, but no longer! A few weeks ago, I started pulling it out:

I ripped out all the ground cover, re-shaped the slope to be smooth and flat, and dragged two truck loads of dirt to the dump. I burried the above-ground irrigation lines, as well as the low-voltage lighting wire. I installed a drip irrigation lines for the trees, and any potted plants we want to put on the top. I even pulled an old stump that was on there.
Since the dogs just love to dig holes, I've fenced the area off:

Now, the question is, what to re-plant with? I'd like to put a grass on it. Not a lawn that I'd have to mow, but a pretty green grass that the dogs can trample, but not kill. Korean grass? Elephant grass? I'm going to taLk to my Mom, who works in a nursery about it... Any suggestions?

Ok, we seeded. Creeping Red Fescue. It's a long grass, that after a few years turns into this flowing, lumpy grass, what kind of looks like the ocean to me. It should be tough enough to stand up to the dogs, and it's suited to this climate. I seeded by mixing the seed with "Bumper Crop", a mixture of potting soil and fertilizer (stinky!), and then covered that with a thin layer of peat moss, to protect it, and retain moisture. Hopefully, in a few weeks we'll have the beginnings of a good ground cover. And with that taken care of, it's time to turn my attention back to the rear slope of the house...

Update: 2004/09/01
Well, it's been five months, and the creeping red fescue has grown in:

We're very hapy with it. It's pretty, and strong. It doesn't like our 110 degree summer days, but then nothing does. Winter seems to be our growing period.

Shameless Plug:
If you're in the Southern California region, and want help with any phase of landscaping, my mother is a landscape designer, and can help you as much as she helped me!

Click Here to view the first 11 comments to this article!

Erik (2006-01-03): T. Wood, Other than looking at other nurseries and asking if any of them can special order some, I don't have any leads for you.

Grassy (2006-07-05): Just want to add my 2 cents on the red fescue - I love it! We seeded our entire back "lawn" (a 15'x25' area) with it a few months ago and it has come in beautifully. My 1.5 year old daughter runs around (and falls down) on it and we all roll around on it pretty much every day. My understanding is that in the summer-dry climate that I live in (northern california) it *looks* better with occassional summer water but doesn't *need* it. So far, so good!

Erik (2006-07-12): Great Grassy, it does seem like it'd be fun to run and play in. My dog sure love to do that!

Trudy (2006-08-04): Is there a grass that stays short and doesn't really need to be cut? A hill in front of my house is so tall you can't even see my yard from the street, we're about 6 foot above street level!

Trudy (2006-08-04): P.S. I'm from northern Indiana.

Erik (2006-08-16): There are some mossy grond covers that stay low and don't need to be mowed, but I don't know of any grasses like that.

Charlie (2006-10-04): We live in South Mississippi- a block from the Gulf of Mexico. Will "Korean grass" be a suitable ground cover for this area? Any input will be appreciated.

Erik (2006-10-07): No idea Charlie, good luck!

Susan (2006-10-09): We also live in southern CA and are considering red fescue for our slope. How much do you water it, and how much care is required? Have you or will you cut it ever? Do you have a good source to recommend for the seeds?

Erik (2006-10-09): Susan, I'm getting ready now to cut out the grass and put in something more hardy. The combination of the heat and my dogs has all but killed it. I watered four times a day for 2-3 minutes each depending on the season, and it seemed to like that. My goal was to just keep the soil underneath the grass moist. As for care, I've heard that some people like to cut it anually, but it seems optional.

K (2006-11-14): Have you decided what to put in instead? My husband and I have just finished taking out our standard lawn and are trying to decide what to do with the area. We have 2 dogs so it's good to get the input that the red fescue didn't do well. I saw a picture in Better Homes and Gardens of the Korean grass so I'm going to research that a bit more. Is there a reason why you didn't put that in (saw in an earlier post that you were thinking about that as an option before doing the red fescue)?

Erik (2006-11-22): K, no I haven't replaced it yet. We are thinking about putting in some more prostrate rosemary, since the dogs stay off it. (I think because of the smell.) Or maybe something pine-like.

Paul (2007-02-23): I live in Los Angeles and have a side slope similar to yours. I hired a landscape contractor to hydro seed creeping red fescue and wild flowers. The fescue came in, but so did the weeds which have now taken over the entire slope. I am in the process of doing the slope over, but am wary about weeds. What did you do? I like the fescue idea (no mowing) plus the slope is too steep to maw anyway. Any suggestions?

Erik (2007-02-24): Hi Paul,
I've virtually abandoned my Creeping Red Fescue, and plan to replace it,
but for entirely different reasons. Mine was killed by last summer's
heat, and my two big dogs. I'm going to put in something much more

However, it's still in now, and has been for the last couple of years,
and almost entirely without weed problems. I get a few, especially
sprouts from the old ground cover, but not too much. I didn't really do
anything to prevent weeds there either, so I guess I have been lucky.

However, the slope in my front yard with the Red Fescue continues along
the rest of the side of my house, and around the back, where I have
other plants, and use prostrate rosemary as ground cover. There I have
had terrible weed problems, and have used many weed killers. For the big
problems, I use round-up, but that tends to cause a lot of damage to
other plants.

What I have found works is the regular application of a pre-emergent
herbacide. I use both a spray, and a granular type, every couple of
months. The pre-emergent causes weed seeds to die when they try to
sprout. It doesn't kill your current crop of weeds, but you won't get
any new ones, as long as you're vigilant with the pre-emergent. So a
couple more rounds of hand-pulling and that should get most of it. The
pre-emergents also tend to be very safe, the one I use is just corn
starch, so I'm not worried about my dogs licking it off their paws.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

Betty (2007-03-24): Hi,I have a ditch in front of our house that is very difficult to mow.We live in southern Ontario, where the winters get quite cold,would Korean grass be suitable for this area? Thanks

Erik (2007-03-25): Betty, sorry but I really don't know how well Korean grass would work in that environment.

Gabe (2007-05-02): Just passing thru on a search for pix of Creeping Red Fescue for my sloping lot.

Where in SoCal are you? This grass doesn't seem to be that heat-tolerant. The best examples I've seen were planted in the shade or near the ocean.

Given that your frontyard doesn't look particularly steep--definitely mowable--I'd suggest going with sod and training your dogs to tread gently ;-) I prefer it to juniper or rosemary groundcovers.

oh btw- That Bumper Crop is awesome! Try it on tomato plants & roses too. It's a soil ammendment made by Kellogg's for the Master Nursery co-op of small westcoast retailers. You can search on their site www.masternursery.com/gardener/index.shtml for a list of nearby nurseries. Kellogg's makes a similar product called N'Rich available at Home Depot, but it seems to contain more fillers and less of the good rich stuff.

tom (2007-08-16): have korean grass and its turning brown is this natural whats the solution to keeping it green

Erik (2007-09-11): Tom, keeping plants green is 90% magic. I just try to keep everything well watered.

marie (2007-10-11): can anyone tell me the difference between creeping fescue, creeping red fescue & korean grass????


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