We recently purchased a home in Maricopa Arizona. The house is 6 years old and never had anything but dirt in the back yard. Over the years the yard has eroded away. Looking at the brick wall surrounding the yard you can see that at least 4 or 5 inches of dirt has washed / blown away. Before we begin our landscaping, don't know exactly what we are doing yet, should we fill the yard back up with dirt or just start where the yard is at? Thanks
I would first try to determine why the erosion has occurred. You wrote that it has "washed/blown away". Are there unusually high winds regularly in that area? I wouldn't think there would be a heavy rainfall issue in AZ, but on the other hand I understand that erosion occurs in dry desert areas in part because of the poor soil and lack of anything to anchor it.
Have other residents had a similar problem? Is the erosion more or less consistent across the yard or is it concentrated in one particular area? Are there any drains on your yard?
I can easily see that dirt without anything to anchor it could allow erosion, but there might be something else going on as well.
If your county has an agricultural extension office, the folks there might have some insight into local erosion issues.
We get some wind but very rarely high wind. As you said it's not anchored and just blows in the wind. I've learned not to leave my windows opens with just the screens, it gets very dusty.
We haven't met anyone so far without a finished back yard. Our neighbor said his yard was bare when he moved it but they added something right away. The erosion is consistent across the yard. There are no drains but we can see where the paths it takes to flow out of the yard during the heavy rains. The water runs to both sides of the house and then out to the front. It does not run to the house or back to the neighbor behind us.
Thanks for the idea of the agricultural extension office. I can see if there is something like that. We have an idea of what we want to do in the yard we just are trying to find out if we have to replace the dirt that has eroded first or if we can start with the ground the way it is.
i have seen your problem before, a friend had a yard blow away due to water restrictions, he wasnt allowed to water because of lack therof
so he installed a rock/cactus yard. it looks good
no maintance, no watering. no lawn cutting
Thanks! Do you know if they filled in the yard with dirt first to take care of the areas that eroded or just put in the rock/cactus yard. That's what we're looking at doing but don't know if we should replace all the dirt that is gone.
I think I would (1) level the yard first, and (2) add soil amendments, such as compost, before doing anything permanent like landscaping or sodding. If the yard isn't level, it seems to me that erosion might still occur in the established paths where the water has been draining. If you enhance and enrich the soil, it's more likely that you won't have addiitonal problems in the future, as the grass and/or landscaping will have more of a chance to survive. It would be sad and frustrating to finish off the yard only to see that there's still an erosion problem.
If the yard is large, you could landscape it section by section, determining first where it would be best to finish off the yard in recognition that there would still be an erosion problem in the unfinished areas.
Sounds like the developer just didn't bother to finish the yards. Sloppy, but not unsurprising, and really irresponsible. Good thing he wasn't building in the Dust Bowl areas in the 1930's.
Second thoughts...given the arid soil in Arizona and the apparent need to do something before any more "soil" blows away, you might try an annual vining plant like a morning glory to provide a temporary ground cover while you're working on the rest of the yard. You wouldn't need to enhance the soil over a large area, just where you plant the seeds. Then let the vines wander. You could also do this with pumpkin vines, even if you don't expect to harvest pumpkins.
But don't plant perennial ground covers unless you really want them as their roots are tenacious and they're hard to eradicate once established.
In some areas in the south, morning glories are considered a noxious weed. I don't know whether this is the case in AZ or other SW states, but you could check it out. State agriculture departments usually publish this kind of information on their websites.This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
maricopa, arizona, is as dry as old concrete in piles. I would stay with a seriscape, but on the side of the yard facing the most windy days of the year, I would put up a big rock hill to break up that wind.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
I live in Phoenix so know Maricopa well. The builders don't really care what the yard looks like when they are done. I doubt the dirt has just blown away, It is just not windy here. My guess is they just removed to much of it when building.
Get a load of fill dirt to level out the yard and proceed from there. Choose something to cover the dirt whether it is decomposed granite, mulch in beds or a small amount of grass. In our back yard, I have planting beds with mulch, some Tiffway 419 grass and the rest is native plants in decomposed granite. You much have a drip or sprinkler on everything. As the plants grow you can cut back on the water.
If you do grass or planting beds, you should make sure you have good drainage. I'm lucky, my soil is a great sandy loam, but there is a lot of clay and caliche out there.
A great guide for desert plants is free "Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert" from the Water Use it Wisely people. Stick to those plants and you can't go wrong. Do not rely on tags that say "full sun". They mean full sun in San Diego, not in the Phoenix area.
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