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To mulch a steep slope while still using landscape cloth to keep down weeds was the goal of this project.

Mulch Steep Slope

I have locations on our property with fairly steep slopes that I hope to mulch.  The first attempts were doomed because I definitely wanted to use landscape cloth to keep down weeds while still letting moisture penetrate.

The corner of our greenhouse nestled into the excavation and steep slope cut by tillerThe first project was mulching around our plastic 12 x 24 gothic arch homemade green house.  This greenhouse is built on a significant slope.  To create a level site for the foundation of the greenhouse I used a garden tiller to dig probably about two feet into the slope side.  All this excavated soil was dragged down the hill building up soil on the downhill side of the foundation site for a level topsoil pad on which to construct the ultimate greenhouse foundation.

Please see my article about the "homemade" greenhouse.

This greenhouse foundation is partially stone and partially topsoil.  Before the stone was added, landscape cloth was pulled across the topsoil foundation and up the side of the very steep slope that had been cut into the hillside by the tiller.  In the photo above you can see the landscape cloth coming from beneath the stone foundation and up the steep slope that I hoped to mulch.  I could not make this slope less steep because I needed a 4 foot walkway beside the greenhouse.  I knew mulching the landscape cloth wouldn't work.  I would end up with mulch piled on the side of the greenhouse before it would stick to the slope.  So I needed something mulch would stick to.

burlap on slopeBurlap! Here I have unrolled some burlap and covered over the landscape cloth.  I probably should have made the landscape cloth cover a little more lawn; it was to close to the steep slope.  I could not run my lawn mower this close without possibly having it fall into the trench.  So I extended the burlap a little further.  Rather than cutting the burlap to size I just folded under the outside edge of burlap until I got a nice clean edge that I wanted.  I held the outside edge of the burlap down with landscape staples.Box of 75 landscape staples from Home Depot  I used the metal wicket style but I would prefer a plastic landscape "pin" in case my mower ever caught hold of one and threw it.  Plastic would shatter these staples would fly like a bullet!  Well that is what I had on hand and the plastic ones I have seen are very expensive and only in small packets.  I have a landscape staple every two feet or so and I did pull or stretch the cloth for a nice clean edge.  Plus folding the burlap under helps eliminate any tendency for the weave of the cloth to come undone on the pinned edge.

Packing the mulch

I was using shredded bark mulch.  The mulch grabs onto the burlap nicely.  Applying the mulch in the steep corner area.I found I could go along all but the steepest edges with my shovel, tossing on mulch carefully and then patting or packing it with the back of the shovel.  The packing seemed to make the mulch adhere nicely to the burlap and the slope.  At the steepest points I rubbed the mulch into the burlap.  I was also forced to build up some support with mulch from below.  The mulched slope is not quite as steep as the actual slope was.  And here is a photo with most of the area mulched.  One thing I usually do since we do not plan on growing anything here is to spray the edge of the mulch with grass and weed killer.  This tends to provide a long lived clean edge between the grass and the mulch.

Burlap does not last forever.

In fact I guess this cloth is made to degrade over time.  Usually after several applications of mulch, the mulch itself will form a crust and hold itself, and new mulch, in place.  Again I am not trying to grow anything here so I will not be disturbing this mulch.

I am just doing this project on 5/10/2004 so I will have to report back on how well this project and idea holds up.  Here is a shot of the greenhouse with the mulching well along.

Mulching in place
I hope the helps you with your next mulching project especially on the steep hills!










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BHT Created: 10 May 2004

BHT Revised: 22 Oct 2016


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Copyright 2003-2016 Robert Matheson.  All rights reserved.  Email Bob at BobsHowTo.com - . 

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