Storm Damage

Consumerist paradise at the end of the rainbow?  
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The drain clogged up at the top of the slope, so we lost some soil due to the run off.  The poor Podocarpus I moved back in early fall was undermined and fell over.  Nothing serious.  I righted the Podocarpus, replaced some soil, and that was that. 

When the sun finally reappeared after 6 days of rain, we went for a long walk around the neighborhood.  Right around the bend, a fallen Eucalyptus globulus.  No loss there.  Let the oaks return!  We had to maneuver our way through the branches.   We saw another big Euc tilted and ready to fall right into some power lines.  I hope So Cal Edison gets it taken out before it takes out our electricity. 

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The walk ended up as a master class entitled "Why Ice Plant On Slopes Is Bad".  The slope failures we saw were all ice plant related. 
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I think, but am not sure that the ice plant in question is Carpobrotus chilensis.  Essentially, it's a top-heavy plant with shallow weak roots.  As rain falls, the plant fattens itself up by absorbing water.  A lot of water.

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The roots cannot support the added weight, and the whole plant, along with part of the slope ends up sliding down.  We saw this several times:
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In immediately adjacent areas, on the same types of slopes, the original native vegetation appeared to be mostly Lemonade Berry, Rhus integrifolia.  No failures of the Rhus.  They were all fine, and looked better than the Carpobrotus as well.

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On a lot where regrading is in progress, we saw some slight failure of the unprotected bare slope:
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I am sure they will plant something other than Carpobrotus.  It's fairly well known that ice plant will pull down a slope.  The latest slope "solution" seems to be Aptenia cordifolia, which is only slightly better than Carpobrotus.  I bet $10 that's what they plant.  It's cheap and quick and popular and not called "ice plant", so it must be good, right?   If you simply take a walk after a long and heavy rain and look at results, you can appreciate that Rhus integrifolia would be a better choice, but how often do builders choose native plants? 

Ummm...never? 

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