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A Complete Landscape Solution

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

In this project spotlight we will showcase an example of several landscape improvements working together for a collective end result. Depending on your particular project you may be able to implement two or more of these ideas together saving time and money. While each project can be performed individually, it makes more sense doing it this way. Additionally, overall impact from equipment traffic will be greatly diminished.


First, let’s talk about the project; what we are doing and what we are hoping to accomplish. The two main homeowner concerns were the outdated front landscaping, as well as several gutter downspouts that discharged water on the north side of the house causing icy spots on the driveway and front walkway during winter. Less concerning was the overgrown vegetation on the side of the house. This overgrown area was on a steep slope making maintenance difficult, as well as the abundance of plant growth made an excellent habitat for undesirable critters and creatures such as snakes.


Ok, now let’s tackle the item that’s the most important, but not always the most exciting for many homeowners. Proper drainage is key in preventing water from entering your basement or crawlspace. Nobody wants water issues, and damage can be costly to repair. Luckily this home was built with a slope away from the house in 3 of the 4 directions. The road was higher in elevation, but suitable grading moved water from the front of the house around to the sides. The key with surface drainage is to have the top of your foundation a minimum of 6 inches above grade; as well as 10 feet of positive drainage away from the house. Since this house met that criteria for the most part we are dealing with a second water issue. Non-permeable surfaces such as driveways and roofs will collect water very quickly during a heavy rain event and will channel large amounts of water. This water is collected in the rain gutters and discharged out the downspouts. In our case it was at this location that needed attention.

The best way to solve this problem is with the use of underground drainage systems. For minimal impact, you can go as short as 10’ away from the foundation and install a pop-up discharge. But in our situation we wanted to run this further away from the house and out of the main yard. There was a wooded portion of the property that made perfect sense to daylight, allow the water to exit on the surface, the large amount of water coming off the roof.

Now all that needs to be done is to dig a gently sloping trench towards our area of discharge. Sounds easy, right? Well, there were a few obstacles in the way such as underground utilities, sprinklers, shrubs and the front sidewalk to the front door. Regarding the sidewalk the most economical solution was to cut a small strip for removal and replacement after our drain pipe was installed. This doesn’t always go to plan so prepare for the possibility of needing new concrete to patch the void.


Once we have a solution to our main objective we can move onto other matters such as the overgrown landscaping. Before we became involved in the project there were several large trees near the house. These had already been removed but it is important to keep large trees and shrubs away from the foundation as their root system can slowly damage your home. That said; the large root balls still remained so we would either need to dig them out, use a stump grinder to shred them up, or avoid them altogether.

Just like the trees, the shrubs had to go. They were old and too large for the front of the house. Additionally, they had dead spots making them look unsightly. Not to mention they were standing in the way of meeting our number one objective! We elected to dig the trench for the drain pipe in the planter bed to reduce the impact on the front yard, which was an established lawn area. Some heavy equipment would need to be driven on portions of the yard but we made an effort to avoid more damage than necessary. This allowed us to achieve two goals with one action making for an improved use of resources, saving time and money. Obviously, we tried to keep as many of the plants intact as possible so long as they were in good condition. This helped to reduce replacement costs as well.


When it comes to covering planter beds there tends to be two different choices. Bark mulch or decorative rock. Both have their pros and cons, in this case the homeowner elected to go with decorative rock.

Rock has a higher initial cost but lasts much longer so you tend to recapture the cost difference and come out ahead in the long run. While we don’t recommend using weed fabric under bark mulch, it is recommended under rock. Since weed fabric performs a key function it is crucial to use commercial grade 5 oz fabric, as other lesser products tend to deteriorate too quickly and don’t work well long term. Additionally, when you transition from different surface materials it is important to install some type of edge or border to keep dissimilar materials separated.

For this project we used metal edging. When installed below grade this discourages grass from growing underneath and helps to hold rocks in place. Most metal edging is approximately 4” in height, which is the perfect height for planter beds. Regardless if you are doing bark mulch or decorative rock it’s best when applied at a depth of 3-4 inches to discourage weeds.


Now that we have resolved some of the main front yard concerns, let’s move around the house and keep chasing problems while we resolve them. This brings us to the steep ravine which was full of 6 foot tall grasses. Supposedly this was maintained at one point and time but over the years it became less kept and more native. With the adjacent wooded area it was no surprise that it had been taken over.

Our aim was to reclaim this area and make it possible to easily mow with a riding mower. Additionally, we planned to run our drainage pipe through this area prior to backfilling with fill dirt. This part of the project was relatively easy and would simply require the importation of fill dirt via several dump truck loads. To reduce the likelihood of soft spots and settling we would spread the dirt out and compact in lifts, or layers. This will also assist in ensuring the water runs off the surface rather than creating a possible mudslide. As we worked towards our desired final grade, the remaining dump truck loads were topsoil, instead of fill, for our fescue seed.


As we continue to move around the house we now reach the backyard. This house was built in a ravine. During the process of our project it was evident that many loads of fill material were brought in to raise up the grade prior to building the house. Because of the way the house was built, some settling in the yard has occurred over the years.

The backyard had settled several inches against the back basement concrete patio. Since we were already disrupting the site by bringing in heavy equipment and dump trucks for the side yard it made perfect sense to import soil to the back yard and raise up the elevations for a smooth transition. We also extended some gutter downspouts with drain pipes out into the wooded area to daylight the water away from the house and prevent further settling and erosion.


Over the course of this project we didn’t change much with the irrigation system. We marked sprinkler heads so we didn’t damage them. In the back yard where we raised up the elevation we needed to raise the heads so they would still operate correctly. As well as in the perimeter landscape planter beds we needed to move some heads away from the house into the lawn area. After we installed the new shrubs and perennials in the planter bed areas and before installing the weed fabric and decorative rock we installed ½ inch drip tubing with emitters spaced every 12 inches, surrounding the plants. One huge advantage to drip irrigation is not only the conservation of water, but it also enables you to give water directly to the plants you want and not the weeds. With any major project attention should be given to the sprinkler system and proper adjustments and potentially adding zones may be required.


One of the last steps in this process, besides the final cleanup is the seeding and installation of straw mat. This can be a time consuming process to prep the soil. We used a skid steer attachment to speed up this process. Seeding is a process that has many steps to success. Here is a link to an article to assist with Proper Care and Watering for New Seed or Sod Lawn. In addition to watering, the use of erosion control straw mat helps the new seedlings to hold and retain moisture as well and discourages birds and other critters from eating the seeds. The straw and gridded fabric also help to keep erosion at bay until the new lawn is established. This is especially important when working with sloped yards as the case was here.

Overall, this project went very well. There were a lot of moving parts but the end result was well worth the effort. Each project could have been performed individually, but doing them together allowed for overlap in services, resulting in an overall shorter construction time and a substantial savings in labor and equipment, when compared with work that was spread over several years.

Jasper Ridge landscaping provides “Professional Landscape Services” to the Joplin and surrounding areas; including Carl Junction and Webb City. Our service area is contained within Jasper and Newton Counties in Missouri (MO). For more information about Jasper Ridge LLC please contact us using the contact form.


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