Can’t afford a lawn drone for $50K? Here are 3 cost-efficient ways to deal with your slope.
(Paul Supawanich / Twitter)

(Paul Supawanich / Twitter)

Yesterday, we read about San Francisco’s two $50,000 “lawn drones.” That’s $100,000 on two remote-controlled mowers.

While we agree that public parks are one of the few reasonable applications for turf,  a slope too precarious for humans to enjoy that also requires a $50,000 machine to maintain seems unnecessary. Are you dealing with a slope? Here are some ideas to save you from a lawn drone:

Design: Allison More, Wilder Landscaping (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Photo)

1. Build a retaining wall

Guess what never has to be mowed? A wall.

Design: Arterra Landscape Architects (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

2. Grow an erosion-proof border

      • Install jute erosion-control netting before planting on steep slopes. Unfurl the rolls on the slope across the grade; secure them to the ground with U-shaped galvanized or plastic-coated pins (usually sold with the jute). Cut small, X-shaped holes in the jute and plant the seedlings or plants through them.
      • Choose plants with dense, strong roots that help hold the soil. Examples: artemisia, ceanothus, cotoneaster, creeping mahonia (M. repens), ice plants, juniper, rockrose, rugosa roses.
      • Arrange plants in staggered rows when setting them on a slope where erosion may occur.
      • Install drip irrigation so plants get the amount of water they need without a lot of runoff. Place emitters uphill of the plants.
      • To catch rainwater, build berms on the downhill side of the plants using soil from the planting holes.

(Billy Hustace / Getty Images)

3. Plant a lawn alternative

In some parks, San Francisco uses a fescue blend that doesn’t require mowing. We were all for this trend! Maybe it’s time for the city to take another look at the ever-expanding options on turf alternatives (we recently caught up with Delta Bluegrass Company founder, Ed Zuckerman, to talk about what what it’s like to be a sod farmer during a drought, including some really exciting product developments).


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