Almost all our holding is sloping. There are small level areas, but generally the land slopes down from the road to the river. A little below the barn is one of the steeper escarpments. I have planted this area with trees that are less likely to be coppiced for fuel wood; such as scots pine, rowan, small leaved lime, beech and holly. Most of these species also prefer it to be well drained. Last year I also planted 6 small juniper bushes. I discussed in a previous post using fiber insulation underlay as mulch material.
One of the reasons I was keen on it was it would stay on a 45 degree slope with no additional weighing down even in our winds. However, it is now showing signs of composting into the bank and grass seeding into it’s surface. The plastic reinforcing fibres are quite obvious now, but are still enmeshed with the underlay.
I have therefore been round all the underlay patches and mulched over the underlay with cardboard on the slopes and newspaper (very old and damp) on the flatter areas. Hopefully this time next year the underlay will have completely gone, and I can just peel back the cardboard and rake up the plastic fibres, if they haven’t got too much in the way of roots growing through them! The newspaper on the level does not really need weighing down now – it is pretty consolidated although the birds are digging under it a little looking for treats. It would have been too difficult to use on the slope however, so I have used 4 large sheets of corrugated cardboard. These are overlapping with the juniper poking out the middle, and weighed down with some spare fence post stobbs that we had left over from our temporary fencing whilst evicting the sheep. I’m pretty pleased with the way it looks, although the dogs think there is something very exciting hidden under the cardboard – so I don’t think it will necessarily last as long as it should!