So we started by getting the parging done. Jim just didn't want to do it and there were a couple of homes in the neighbourhood taking advantage of a parging company's presence and we did too.
In addition, we bought a few lilacs and wild roses, create bedding plots for them that will, hopefully, hold some moisture and planted them. After roto-tilling, we covered the disturbed soil with the black anti-weed cloth and then covered that with washed rock. As you can see from the picture of the lilac twig, they are very small. Keep your fingers crossed that they are hardy and fast growing, as we are planting them along the driveway to try and keep the snow drifting to a minimum.