Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about our product, the installation process, or durability of the Dirt Locker®? Well, you're in the right place. Click below to browse our most frequently asked questions to give you a better idea of how our product can better serve you & your hillside project.

HOW DOES THE DIRT LOCKER® PREVENT EROSION?

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Your plants will grow successfully within the nurturing aid of the Dirt Locker® that will lock in moisture, soil, and nutrients. Together, the Dirt Locker® and your plants become a cohesive stabilizing force, protecting your entire hillside from nature’s destructive elements and providing erosion control that improves over time. As your plants increase their root structure, the hillside is constantly increasing in strength AND beauty! So you want at least 30% of your Dirt Locker system planted, but 50%-70% is ideal as the more plants, the bigger and stronger the root system! Check out this chart to see how it works.

HOW LONG WILL THE DIRT LOCKER® LAST?

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Technically, forever! High Density Polyethylene (HDPE, which the Dirt Locker® is made of) is not biodegradable and does not break down over time. They are also created with a 10 year UV inhibitor. The original prototypes were in place for 11 years with only mild fading. Additionally, since the Dirt Locker® is designed to grow and sustain plants, ideally they will be providing shade, thus substantially increasing the life of the Dirt Locker®. They also come with a 5 year warranty, however the warranty is void if not installed per our official Dirt Locker® installation instructions included with your purchase.

HOW DOES THE DIRT LOCKER® FAIR IN HARSH WINTERS AND EXTREME SUMMERS?

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We stand by our product in the harshest winters (-58F/-50C) and hottest summers (+160F/+60C). The Dirt Locker® is made from 100% recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) so the material is very durable and will not crack due to the elements. Check out this chart to see how the Dirt Locker® protects plants all year round!

WHAT IS YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?

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The Dirt Locker® is ecologically friendly in several ways, but at its core, is constructed from 100% recycled, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). Feel free to request a certificate of authenticity for verification. The Dirt Locker® is also food-friendly because HDPE is one of the few plastics approved by the FDA for food storage and preparation. HDPE is found in milk jugs, plastic bags, and refillable bottles (labeled #2 plastic for recycling). The benefits of HDPE also include acting as an effective barrier to repel or hold in moisture, does not rot, resists insects and chemicals, creates no harmful emissions during production or during its use by the consumer. Most importantly, HDPE does not leak toxic chemicals into the soil or water so it is an excellent choice for fruit and vegetable gardens, and technically, it will last forever!

Each Dirt Locker® purchased saves the equivalent of 13 plastic milk jugs from entering our landfills and oceans. Each month, HillGrow Inc., owner of Dirt Locker®, helps recover nearly 100,000 plastic milk jugs monthly. Read about our global impact in the Group of Nations online publication 2021 (PG 134-135) & 2022 (PG 118-120) to learn more about our pledge to stop erosion, save water, recycle plastic while growing trees, plants and food all at the same time!

We also partner with Eden Reforestation Projects to plant 6 trees for every 10 Dirt Lockers sold! Learn more about how Eden Project's tree planting initiatives are impacting our environment in a positive way by tackling deforestation and providing millions of people with employment opportunities throughout Central America, Indonesia, Haiti, Madagascar, Kenya, Mozambique, and Nepal!

DO I NEED TO CLEAR MY HILLSIDE BEFORE INSTALLATION AND PUT LANDSCAPING MATERIAL DOWN?

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You do not need to clear any dead vegetation on your hillside prior to installation, but any alive, green weeds or grass will deplete the nitrogen in the soil. You can spot spray the weeds with straight white vinegar solution (1 gallon vinegar, 1 cup table salt, 1 tablespoon of dish detergent in a spray bottle) and wait until they are killed and completely dried out before install. In order for the Dirt Locker® system to work effectively, the plants need to have the ability to grow their roots down into the hillside, therefore preventing future erosion. Any material besides the natural dirt on the hillside, will prevent the plants from rooting. However, for cells that you are designating for steps, you can use a landscaping fabric either on the bottom of the cell, or on top of the soil prior to filing your step with stones, gravel or a stepping stone.

WHAT IS THE BEST SOIL TO USE WITH THE DIRT LOCKER®?

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The Dirt Locker® works in conjunction with any type of soil across the globe from condensed clay, to rocky, sandy, or silt, you name it! Therefore, the best soil for backfilling your Dirt Locker® system is going to be closest to the native soil that exists on the slope, and if possible, to mix in some compost matter at 25% compost 75% native soil. If that is not possible, we recommend 75% topsoil, and 25% compost or similar mixture. A nursery could give guidance if you are still unsure on what is best to use in your specific region. As your plants grow within the nurturing aid of the Dirt Locker®, it will start to change the composition of the soil underneath the system to much richer, nutrient dense soil. For rocky soil that may be difficult to install the J hooks, we recommend drilling into your soil using a 1/2” drill bit 18-24”L to get the depth you need to secure the system in place. Calculate fill in cubic feet by multiplying .375 by Small quantity, 1 by Medium quantity, and 1.5 by Large quantity. Divide total cubic feet by 27 to get total cubic yards.

WHAT ARE THE BEST TREES & PLANTS TO USE WITH THE DIRT LOCKER®?

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The best plants are going to be native species where possible. We suggest talking to a nursery with some key ideas:

1- You are no longer limited to hillside plants since each of the Dirt Lockers® create a terraced area

2-Plants that will be successful in their climate conditions

3- Evergreens are an excellent choice for discouraging erosion since they grow all year with no dormant period

4- Use smaller plants. The smaller the plant, the better it will acclimate to the conditions. And bonus, they are less expensive!

-Search ideas with the National Gardening Association

-Search by Plant Characteristics here

-Search by Plant Name here

-Search the Plant Database here

-Identify your Plant via Photograph here

As for the best trees, citrus trees are great on hillsides, as well as avocado, fig, apple, pears, and pomegranates. Keep in mind, smaller trees acclimate better to their new conditions and some palm trees can take up to 5 years to fruit so remember to be patient. Also, it can’t hurt to add a wire basket to prevent rodents. Stone fruits (peach, nectarine, plum, cherry, apricots, etc) can work, but are not the best option for hillsides due to the need for training, 360 scaffold, not getting enough space to grow and it can be hard to reach. However, if you are up for the task, it can be done!

WILL THE DIRT LOCKER® WORK IN CONJUNCTION WITH MY RETAINING WALL?

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Yes, the Dirt Locker® will work beautifully in conjunction with retaining walls, as the retaining wall serves more of a structural purpose. The Dirt Locker® is a hillside terracing and erosion control system that will lock in moisture, soil, and nutrients. Together, the Dirt Locker® and your plants become a cohesive stabilizing force, protecting your entire hillside from nature’s destructive elements and providing erosion control that improves over time.

HOW DO I DETER GOPHERS, SMALL CRITTERS, AND OTHER GARDEN LOVING ANIMALS?

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We recommend purchasing a mesh material like the following, or similar to, Critterfence Black Steel 1/2” Mesh, and placing the Dirt Lockers® directly over the mesh. Make sure you cover the edges of the Dirt Locker® system. For planter rings, use the basket method demonstrated in our YouTube video. A few plant suggestions would be: gopher spurge (Euphorbialathyris), crown imperials, lavender, rosemary, salvia, catmint, oleander and marigolds, as well as narcissus, castor bean, and crown imperial for ground squirrels. As for larger animals, you may have to use something similar to an all natural deer and rabbit repellent like Invisible Fence or install a physical barrier like green welded wire, branch or wood fencing around your garden.

DOES DIRT LOCKER® SUPPORT PERMACULTURE?

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We believe the Dirt Locker® system is a permanent solution for hillside planting and therefore, great for permaculture. The best gardening practices don’t disrupt the soil’s microbiome, but enhance it like crop rotation, grouping plants that like to be near each other and support each other, and only removing annuals, keeping perennials and trees. The Dirt Lockers acts as their own little gardening beds and never have to be disturbed or modified, disrupting the hillside in any particular way. If you opt for growing your own fruits and vegetables, the crop rotation should be as follows for the most optimal soil microbiome: plant nitrogen givers (like legumes and beans), then high nitrogen feeders (like potatoes), then low nitrogen feeders (like turnips, radishes, onions), then REPEAT every grow cycle. Fun fact, the highest caloric density of any crop is the potato. So if you want the best bang for your buck and time, plant potatoes! Click here to download a complimentary planting schedule for the most efficient nitrogen cycle. Also, if you’re looking to keep your crops growing throughout winter*, arugula grows like a weed so keep it easily accessible! Same with herbs like cilantro and parsley. Other veggies like radishes, kale and swiss chard are also great choices to plant in the winter since they act like perennials. Pro tip, try planting lacinato kale for a more tender, tastier and beautiful bite. Fun fact, it is also called dinosaur kale! (*Locations that experience mild winters like Southern CA.)

CAN YOU DO MY DIRT LOCKER® INSTALLATION AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

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As of now, we do not provide installations as our product is meant to be DIY. Some customers opt to hire their own contractor and arrange their own installation. However, we are hoping to offer these services in the future so stay tuned. In the meantime, we are happy to talk with your contractor and ensure they have all the information to complete your project. We also recommend waiting until you have all the materials on site before scheduling or coordinating your installation date as estimated delivery times are not guaranteed by shipping carriers.

The cost will depend on a few different factors including location and terrain, as well as whether or not you or the contractor will be providing soil/ access to hillside, irrigation, and planting.

CAN DIRT LOCKER® CAUSE NANOPLASTICS?

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With Dirt Locker®, you don't have to worry about nano plastics or micronanoplastics. Nanoplastics form from moving plastic, like plastic bags or plastic packaging, whereas the Dirt Locker® is installed into the ground and do not move. Even if someone felt compelled to sand down the Dirt Locker®, they are non toxic. HDPE is actually approved for food processing so the cutting board you use to chop veggies, or a chef uses to prepare your a meal at your favorite restaurant is probably prepared on a cutting board with HDPE plastic. So there are a few pros when using 100% recycled HDPE plastic - it's non toxic, does not break down over time, doesn't loose it's strength during the recycling process, and the Dirt Lockers themselves can be can be recycled.

HOW DO I ACCOMMODATE FOR UNEVEN TERRAIN, BENDS AND SLOPES STEEPER THAN 36° ON MY HILLSIDE?

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We recommend disconnecting the rows from the system to accommodate any uneven terrain, bends or steep slopes as to not add any extra pressure on the center slot causing a misshapen Dirt Locker® to form. You do not want a "V" or wavy shape. If this occurs during installation, be sure to review the chart via the Installation PDF to ensure you have the right Dirt Locker® size and width, then remove the row tab from the center slot, and secure it to the hillside with a j hook. This will allow you to transition around a corner or curve by disconnecting each "network", or row, from the row above it to prevent distortion. It is the roundness, or "C" shape that give Dirt Lockers their strength.

The same application applies to slopes over 36° as to eliminate the added force from the row above and secure the row with additional j hooks. That said, you might want to have a few extra j hooks on hand, and depending on the scale of your project, potentially 30-50% more.

HOW DOES THE DIRT LOCKER® WORK IN AREAS THAT RECEIVE TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS DURING HURRICANE SEASON?

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The Dirt Locker® has held up through extreme whether like hurricane Ida. Our customers who have experienced torrential downpours and hurricanes have given us amazing feedback, and are been really happy with their Dirt Locker® system results. Check out this chart to see how the system works with rainwater absorption, overflow, and drainage.

The J hook application is also VERY important to the integrity of the system especially as the plants grow within the nurturing aid of the Dirt Locker® that will lock in moisture, soil and nutrients. Together, the Dirt Locker® and your plants become a cohesive stabilizing force, protecting your entire hillside from nature’s destructive elements and providing erosion control that improves over time. As your plants increase their root structure, the hillside is constantly increasing in strength AND beauty! So you want at least 30% of your Dirt Locker system planted, but 50%-70% is ideal as the more plants, the bigger and stronger the root system!

WILL THE DIRT LOCKER® SYSTEM WORK ON MY LAKE/WATERFRONT PROPERTY THAT EXPERIENCES FLUCTUATING WATER LEVELS?

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Yes, but a few things to consider first: 1- proper zoning via city/country/water management districts. 2- supplemental watering system/irrigation in place in dry seasons so plants don't dry off 3- native, aquatic plantings are essential. 4- Keep in mind that the Dirt Locker® is secured to the ground with rebar j hooks, and if your system will be partially/fully submerged under water at times, we recommend purchasing powder coated j hooks to prevent rusting. We do not currently sell this option, but you can certainly find them elsewhere.

For installation, set up the top of your system above the high tide water line and end your system below the low tide water line. Plant accordingly. You should have success in keeping you canal/lake/beach from eroding further as the plant's roots can grow within the nurturing aid of the Dirt Locker®.

HOW SHOULD I DESIGN OR CONFIGURE MY DIRT LOCKER® SYSTEM ON MY SLOPE?

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With Dirt Locker®, you can get as creative as you want designing your system to fit the needs of your slope or your imagination! Click here for 12 common designs that accommodate several different slope types, but don't feel limited by these options as the Dirt Locker® system is incredibly versatile. You have the freedom to connect the units and rows to fit your individual needs. Share your unique designs with us on social media by tagging @dirtlocker_official, or email your photos to info@dirtlocker.com!