Infrastructure makes slope gardening so much easier: infrastructure meaning flat places to stand in order to plant and maintain, flat places so shrubs can have sufficient soil and moisture to grow well, stairs of some sort, and appropriate irrigation.
The top planting cup is remade and will no longer contain a Nandina. It will remain empty because the ficus roots would only re-invade if a Nandina there was watered, but it's also remaining empty because it will be the flat place to set a ladder, in order to trim back the neighbor's ficus to the property line. Long term maintenance planned for! Clever, eh? Once the top cup was done, I got a ladder up there, got on the ladder with my handy pole saw, and did some trimming.
I also worked on the irrigation, changing it from a few drip lines to Netafim drip tubing, which is more durable. Of course there were more Ficus roots to remove.
There's the new drip line. Because of the ficus root problem, irrigation will be minimal. The red symbols are where plants will go, or were. The Salvia indicated by the red arrow used to be in the spot indicated by the paw print. The check is Arctostaphylos 'Austin Griffiths' spot, and the red sun, the Hakea 'Gold Medal'.
The flat area gets a big loop of drip tubing, something it never had.
If the Ficus roots were not such a problem, I would do more, but this should look okay. So, here's the completed project...
If it looks a little empty, keep in mind that 'Austin Griffiths' can grow to 8'x8' or more, and the Hakea 10'x10'.
'Austin Griffiths' Arctostaphylos in his planting cup:
Salvia discolor in her smaller planting cup, where she has a better chance of establishing a bigger, stronger root system. Here it will grow faster and soon be feeding hummingbirds. This Salvia will bloom year round without a pause--year round food for the birds.
If you are wondering why part of the area is not mulched, it is because the neighbor's mow/blow crew blows the Ficus leaves from next door into this area. Because fallen leaves are "messy", I guess. I actually don't mind--they make an effective mulch, if not an aesthetically pleasing one. If I rake up all the leaves and mulch with shredded wood/bark, it will quickly get covered up with Ficus leaves again. So they remain.
The remnant of the Salvia leucantha patch--sigh. I will probably pull it when I am sure the clumps I potted up will survive and grow. Poor plants can't really thrive on such a steep slope, mostly because they can't get watered properly. Water stays long enough on flat places for roots to get at them. At this steepness, it simply runs down the surface.
I'll put one of the potted S. leucantha clumps into this small cup below the ladder-perch at the top of the slope. Not enough space for a shrub, but a good space for a Salvia that is hopefully tough enough to survive
should when the Ficus roots invade again.
On the flat space at the bottom of the slope, the Hakea goes in...
...along with an experiment. An Aloe/Agave nursery--a place with drip irrigation and afternoon shade for small seedlings and offsets, so they can grow big enough to be planted out on the big-boy slope in front of the house, where it is hotter and much drier. It's a practical rather than an aesthetic arrangement--they are intended to be here temporarily.
The Aloe alooides may remain here, if it likes the area, and the Ficus roots don't strangle it... We'll see how it goes.
At the start of the project:
I declare the Spring Project 2016--completed! Dedicating a spot for a ladder so I can keep the neighbor's trees trimmed back--now that is thinking ahead. I think I might be getting the hang of this gardening thing...