Depends on how steep the slope is, and how sandy the soil is. All sand? Sandy soil? How big is the hill?
This post is for a large hillside, with easy to moderate slope.
If the slope is not that steep, you can just use coarse mulch to keep water from running off and taking sand with it. Bark is probably not the best here, as it tends to shed water itself. Use tree chips or "hog fuel" instead.
Choose plants that thrive on sandy, sometimes dry soil. When you bring the plants home from the nursery, remove and rinse off all the potting soil and plant it bare root into the soil (the potting soil can be left on top). You want the plant to acclimate to the native soil and the potting soil around the roots will make that difficult.
To dig, pull the mulch aside and dig your hole, making sure the soil level comes just over the top of the upper roots. Push the soil back first. Water. Sandy soil does not tamp well, so a watering should suffice to snuggle the roots into the surrounding soil. Push the mulch back, careful not to inundate the base of the plant.
Water frequently, not deeply. Sandy soil does not retain moisture as well. The sandier it is, the lighter and more frequently you should water as the plants establish themselves. I would run a soaker hose underneath the mulch, on top of the soil, instead of trying to water on the surface.
Keep the mulch piled on. Despite what you hear, very few shrubs will balk at the mulch layer on top. Rock roses are a notable exception, and peonies and bee balm (perennials)--others I can think of wouldn't (or shouldn't) be planted on a sandy slope any how.
thanks for the good info. I am not familiar with the term "hog fuel" what is it?. Our slope is all sand , moderate slope. I know creeping phlox does work, but did not know it was better to take the potting soil off roots , makes sense though. I'm thinking sedum and thyme also. We have sandy soil on this lake property I have had good luck with those plants, but also have to deal with deer running up and down slope and eating everything. Many challenges.
Hog fuel is rough tree chips. Cheapest mulch around, but we live in the middle of logging country and it is abundant.
Plant a few deep rooting plants on the slope as well. Phlox and sedums *by themselves* will not be ideal, as their roots are shallow. Think of filling the soil with roots at every level--some fine and shallow, like phlox, some tap-rooted, some mid-level and sturdy. Larger shrubs will also keep the deer from being able to range over every inch.
Again great advice! We raked today,lots pf pine needles and leaves. We used that for mulch, I know it will make the soil more acid, but we live in the pines,so it is unavoidable. We are supposed to get lots of rain so I feel much better having all the sand covered. I think i'll check the nurseries for low growing conifers that deer don't eat. might be able to get some good deals this late in the season. Again thanks for all the tips.
What direction does the slope face?
I would try to get some blueberries toplant on the slope. The best wild blueberry patches that I have found are in acid-sandy soils. Work some peat into the soil when planting to help hold the moisture in a little bit. I would go for the Patriot, Northsky, Northcountry or Northblue varieties. For Northern Wisconsin, the varieties that have "North" in the name are the best choise. I had alot of success with those varieties.
Aside from getting the fantastic crop of blueberries, I like the texture of the small leaves, the display of tiny white flowers in spring and the red/orange color in the fall. The tiny leaves also don't require raking and bagging. Nothing compares with taking a wlak in the yard and munching on sun warmed blueberries right off the vine.
another great idea, I actually have some to transplant from the work area, all north varieties. you would think they would grow like crazy, but they have not for me so far. the slope is east facing and gets nice sun but does dry out-deer and rabbits are a problem, but I could put some wire around to get established. This has been a really challenging lot to garden, after 10years am beginning to be successful, challenges are sand and deer.
Do you know anything about apple trees? we cut one down that was established when we moved here but never blossomed in 8 years. planted 2 new ones 3 years ago one dwarf and one regular- no blossoms . Any ideas?
What do your winter temps get down to? More important, probably: what do your spring temperatures get down to? Chances are good that frigid nights in spring are killing the buds, just when they are getting fat. Deer could also be nibbling off the ends enough. Another reason: a lot of upright growth doesn't produce a lot of flower buds, which grow on horizontal spurs and branches. 8 years is not necessarily too long for an apple tree to wait on blooming. Is there a fertilized lawn near the apple tree? Too much nitrogen can make a plant put its energy into leaf growth. Trees should not really be fertilized, or not much anyhow, and if is surrounded by lawn or veggie garden and especially if you use synthetic fertilizers, this could just be too much. Have you pruned it too hard? Done any pruning? You could be cutting off the wrong branches if so, or encouraging it to put its energy into growing back rather than making flowers.
Any one of these things could keep an apple tree from blooming. The fact is that apples are not going to mind much if the soil is pretty acid or a bit alkaline, sandy or a bit clay. Apples are easy going, they bounce back from bad pruning relatively well, like cold winter temps. You just have to watch out for the things I mentioned. If you suspect nocturnal dips in spring temps, make sure you don't get an early blooming variety, and avoid planting them on the sunniest spots (the ones that heat up during the day with a lot of that strengthening spring sun), which could encourage premature spring bloom and bud die-off.
We get quite cold- below Zero. I did get trees for our region, but you mentioned many reasons for not blooming that I can see have happened to us. -deer, frost,maybe fertilizer. You're right they can't be that hard to grow. we have a tree on our hunting land that we did not even know was there till last year and it was loaded with apples and we had never touched it
The best thing for apples in the northwoods is fencing to keep the deer and rabbits away. I had rabbits eat all the bark off all my apple trees one winter.
My borther-in-law bought a bunch of whips and scattered tehm throughout the woods at our cabin. Very sandy soils, with maple, oak and poplar trees. He put a 4 foot high fence around each one, about 4 foot in diameter. Never watered them, never fertilized, never trimmed and 5 years later about 85 % have surrived and are producing apples.