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Holding It All Together

Erosion in Cincinnati is common with our steep hills and increasingly intense weather events. Heavy rains, foot traffic, failing manmade structures such as retaining walls, and a lack of root fabric all contribute to soil moving down where we do not want it to go.

Solutions depend on the issue and may be multi-pronged. If water is the main culprit then deciding what to do with the water is key. You may need a basement contractor to stop it from entering your home as well as a drainage company to resolve the movement of water near the house. If you are moving it off site, then your landscape contractor will need to work with the city and any municipal codes impacted. Most storm water systems are already over loaded and the waterways they use are at capacity. It is often less expensive to deal with the water on site, as well as having a positive impact on our straining municipal systems.

Directing the water to a location on site and creating an area for it to end up can become an attractive option. This may include a “dry” creek bed as the directing piece and planting the area with moisture loving plants. Just remember plants may root hillsides in, but they do not “soak” up water. Standing water will still exist in a low area even with surrounding plantings. Take a look at this site for a list of plant options:

Although not everyone has a creek on their property those that do may be battling erosion along those overtaxed banks. The following link is a helpful review of the problem and solutions to think about:

If heavy foot traffic from deer or people is the issue, then making a permanent path for that movement or planting woody shrubs in the area to stop movement will mitigate further erosion.

Root fabric on hillsides is key to holding it all together if a retaining wall is not a necessity. In full sun the following plants do a great job: gro low sumac, junipers, cotoneaster, grasses such as prairie dropseed, carex ice dance or little bluestem; tough drought tolerant perennials like nepeta, coreopsis, creeping phlox, baptisia etc. Planting an area from seed can also be a solution. Check out the following link for more information:

For a sloping wooded area planting native spring ephemerals is a great option. These will be available at local nurseries specializing in these strong spreading beauties that come in the spring and then disappear during the heat of the summer. Ferns can create great colonies as well as larger under story trees and shrubs such as redbud, paw paw, spicebush and witch hazel.

Inserting rock outcroppings on hillsides can provide a visual break as well as a place to access the planting for maintenance. Using smaller stone along steps with heavy erosion can sometimes be the best option since plants may have a hard time getting settled in an area with high traffic along existing hardscape.

The best way to start any of these projects is with a good landscape contractor who can tell you which end of the spectrum you are on. New retaining wall versus regrading and planting are two very different prospects both financially and visually. They also need to be honest enough to connect you to a solid drainage company if one is required.


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