hillside drainge

by Lisa
(Hanover, NH)

We purchased an older home and uncovered beautiful stairs behind the house on a steep hillside with a low stone retaining wall at the bottom. The landscaping was all overgrown and soil was washing out the steps. These steps are made with railroad ties and have a slate paver in each step. My question is: Should I dig down below the steps riser close to the foundation so that the soil cannot come over the steps? Or, should I install a french drain to help direct the run off? We live in NH which has some pretty tough winters with some good snow amounts.

Also, what plants do you suggest for NH that would have a good root system to help hold the soil?



P.S.: Great website.

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Aug 22, 2013
hillside drainage
by: Anonymous

Hi Lisa. Glad you like our site. Thanks for the kind words.

You say "the soil was washing out the steps"

Just wondering if you mean the water was washing out the steps, or the soil is washing out from the steps?

What are the slate pavers bedded into? Is it gravel, or just soil?

Do you have any pictures of the slope and steps? They would be helpful. Also, how many steps, and how steep of a grade?

Controlling water effectively at the surface is usually the cheapest and easiest place to start.
If the stairs are still in pretty good shape, I would try not to dig up the risers.

What control measures have you implemented on the top of the slope? It may be possible to direct water away from the steps by using a couple of well placed rocks or another small feature where you enter the stairs. You can add to this control measure by building a small swale on the slope itself that can redirect the water away from the edge of the stairs.

Slopes are great. I love them. So much opportunity to be creative.

Anything you do to control the water on the slope has to be planned so you don't put your retaining wall at risk of being eroded as well.

Another idea would be to compliment the stairs with some shrubs and decorative rocks down each side that will help prevent erosion.

We would be glad to help you further if you could submit a picture to us.

As far as plant suggestions go, we tend to direct questions about softscaping to your local nursery experts. They are more familiar with what will do well in your local area according to what they sell.

PS. I have climbed Mt. Washington too. NH. is a beautiful state.

Look forward to hearing from you again. thanks again.


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