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Root of the Problem

April 12, 1998

Regarding Robert Smaus' April 5 "Garden Q&A" column ("Save Our Slopes: Can Certain Plants Help?"):

I am a brush clearance specialist, creating firebreaks on hillsides for clients throughout the Los Angeles area.

I have seen situations where 1) slope destabilization occurs on natural slopes after native brush is completely removed; 2) cut or filled slopes remain stable once large specimens have filled in.

This suggests to me that large specimens can mitigate catastrophic slope failure.

For example, laurel sumac has roots that stretch more than 30 feet in all directions. Toyon, scrub oak and lemonade berry have similar growth patterns.

Properly spaced and maintained, these types of plantings, in my experience, can knit slopes together with a lacework of roots.


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