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tearing up the lawn and planting shrubs etc.

I have a very steep and pretty large front yard and it gives me fits to try to mow the grass (who am I kidding, its mostly nutsedge, dandilions and clover at this point). Anyway, I'm thinking about just tearing up all the grass and putting in shrubs and ground cover. My wife wants it to look like an 'English Garden', but the way she describes it to me it sounds like it will look just like it does now with plants instead of grass - unkempt! Anybody know a site I can go to to get some ideas for choosing and laying out plants for my area? (Atlanta) Any advice for planting on a steep slope?


Re: tearing up the lawn and planting shrubs etc.

First thing you want to do is to determine if & where your house sewer lines connect to the main street sewer; thus, if your sewer lines connect to a municipal sewer at the front of the house, keep any trees & shrub plantings FAR AWAY from these lines (usually 20' is good); you'll let yourself in for a real headache and big expense with the Roto Rooter man if the roots of certain species grow down & clog the sewer lines; this is especially true if the sewer lines are old, before the era when plastic 4" or 6" sewer lines were put in; older lines going back 30 years or more were made of vitrified clay with 3' lengths of pipe that often cracks & have concrete-filled seams on each pipe that the plant roots love to invade to get to the waste water. Privit hedges & various species of willow are absolutely NOTORIOUS for invading sewer lines.

On the other hand, you may have a septic system instead of a tie-in with a town sewer, in such a case the sewer lines are usually located in the back or rear side of the house & won't be affected by hedges or small trees in the front; again, check town records or other sources before you plant any trees or shrubs.

Try to find dwarf varieties of LOW-GROWING evergreens that hug the ground & will do well in the climate of your area; this will relieve you of the job of cutting the front lawn in this area, as such low-growing evergreens rarely require any cutting; check the available lawn & garden shops of Home Depot/Lowe's, & others in your area; also drive around your area to check out what others have done with their property fronts---focus on commercial establishments like lawyers & Dr's offices for good ideas, etc., these types of properties usually have a professional landscape firm do the landscaping & usually make a good appearance; also Google websites under "residential landscaping" for good ideas.

While you're at it, put in an underground electrical line using plastic conduit so that you can illuminate the low-growing evergreen shrubs for the holidays----since the site is on a slight hill, the holiday colored light display should be visible from the street---also consider using the elec conduit for a colonial-style lamp post to illuminate the front walkway---nice.

Re: tearing up the lawn and planting shrubs etc.

Well put von, I had the same concern :)

Re: tearing up the lawn and planting shrubs etc.

There is an access point to the sewer line at the front of the house (I'm assuming to let the Roto guys in) that is made of plastic, so I was operating under the assumption that the entire line was PVC. I am not sure how to find exactly where the line runs, will he city or county be able to mark it line they would utility lines?
The hill is more than a slight incline, so the conduit is a great idea that I didn't think of - thanks. The walkway will have to be added, the only way up the hill is the driveway.
I like the idea of checking out light commercial sites for ideas, but I think my wife has other ideas - more of a 'natural garden'. I think they just look like somebody let the wild flowers take hold, but she seems to think will work. As near as I can tell she means something like this


I think the key is to make sure everything is low to the ground, otherwise it will just look messy. Anybody with this kind of landscaping that can add their .02?

A. Spruce
Re: tearing up the lawn and planting shrubs etc.

There are companies that provide free utility locating and marking, call your local building department for one in your area. These companies are paid for by the utility and municipalities to prevent damage to infrastructure, equipment, and death. If they have marked your property and you still hit something, THEY pay for the damages. If you do not use a locating company and hit something YOU pay the damages, and you don't even want to go there!

As far as what to do with your yard, I would suggest you sit down with your wife first to determine how hands on you are going to be with both the relandscaping project as well as the maintenance of it after the fact. If neither of you have an interest in maintaining the yard, then you will have to factor in hiring someone to do that. Typical mow and blow work it pretty cheap, constant pruning and maintenance of bushes gets expensive quickly.

Once you know your amount of involvement, then you can do a couple of different things. Diagram your yard with the approximate measurements and slopes and take it to a local nursery for advice on native plants and designs that will work in your environment. Or, you can hire a landscape designer/architect to do it all for you. Your decisions, of course, will determine the overall cost of the project and future maintenance.

Re: tearing up the lawn and planting shrubs etc.

Regarding finding and locating your sewer line: You better check with your water company about this. In my city, the Dept of Water will not pay for locating service on your property. When I have it done, I usually pay around $200 for the service. And they are always very accurate. Now, I'm talking about your property, not city property.

If you have clay pipes: depending on their age, most of them fail at some point. The concrete around the joints simply cracks. Why not replace them with modern day ABS (black) pipes? no root can penetrate ABS pipes.

Regarding your landscape: grass on a hillside gets too hard to keep. I'd do what you are planning to do. Do some research in your area to find out which plants do well in conditions like yours. Then proceed as Spruce indicated. Good luck!

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