Showing posts with label Mudslides. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mudslides. Show all posts

Monday, September 26, 2011

5 Things To Do In The Garden In Fall

Fall color in the Arboretum at South Seattle
Community College
It is raining in Seattle today - a slow, soaking rain. After this kind of rain, the weeds are easier to pull and the wet leaves rake nicely into a pile that stays put until you get them into the compost or yard waste bin. 

I love gardening in the fall. The temperatures are cool so I don't get overheated when I work.  Fall is a long season in Seattle with three full months of color, and being outside, watching the landscape change is good for the soul. 

Here are 5 things to do in the garden now:

1 - Tidy up. Start by clearing away dead foliage on perennials. Rake leaves. You may have to do this a couple of times before fall is over because don't plants go dormant here all at once. Do a thorough weeding job - you will thank yourself next spring. 

2 - Mulch beds. Most horticulturalists will agree that mulching in fall is a good idea. But we don't all agree on the best way to do it. Some people rake piles of leaves into their planting borders and call it good. I prefer to use a composted product like Steerco  (available from Sawdust Supply in Georgetown). I've tried the leaf method and found that after a lot of rain, the leaves stick together, forming a solid mat that smothers ground covers. If the leaves aren't raked off of the crowns of perennials early enough in spring, the new shoots go off in strange directions and the plants fail to do well. Steerco, on the other hand, provides a blanket that protects plant roots from the cold while allowing air circulation. It also looks a lot better. 

3 - Winterize sprinkler systems. It seems obvious that sprinklers should be shut off in the fall, so I am surprised by how many people overlook this necessary chore. Sprinkler lines are shallow and often burst in cold weather. This creates a big problem, and not just for the homeowner, as this mudslide story on the West Seattle Blog from last December shows. 

4 - Plant trees and shrubs. This gives plants a head start on next year. Root systems will start getting established well before the busy growth season in spring. As an added plus, local nurseries have terrific plant sales going on right now.

5 - Plant spring blooming bulbs. If you want daffodils, crocus, tulips and hyacinths next year, you have to plant them now. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do Trees REALLY Prevent Mudslides?

The rain keeps falling and the mud keeps sliding. 

It has been almost a year since I wrote an article for another of my blogs entitled, "Trees and Mudslides." It describes what we learned in Seattle during the mid-90s about what does, and does not, contribute to mudslides. Much of what we discovered observing the aftermath of many, many slides during that time ran completely contrary to what we believed and taught homeowners.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that this new information has come to the attention of very many people. So after a slide occurs, when people are upset and emotions are running high, there's a lot of arguing and finger-pointing that goes on about trees on slopes (among other things). Some people are angry because trees have been cut down. Some are angry because none were planted to hold the slope in the first place.

However, from what we know now, we can see that planting trees on a particular slope might have been a terrible choice and cutting down existing trees might have kept the slide from being far worse. Sometimes trees help and sometimes they don't. When you have all the information, you'll see that there are no easy answers.

If you live in an area on or near a slope, I highly recommend that you read this post. In it you will find links to the USGS survey and reports commissioned by the city of Seattle to investigate the causes of slides that occurred during the winter of 1996-7. Specific areas of the city are described in detail, which you may find very useful if you live in those areas or are considering living there.