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What to Do with the Slope in Your Garden? 6 Attractive Solutions

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What to Do with the Slope in Your Garden? 6 Attractive Solutions

October 10, 2019

The degree of difficulty indisputably rises when you’re gardening on a slope (pardon my word play here). There are ways, fortunately, to deal with uneven landscapes that don’t involve just leaving it barren or giving it over to lawn.

Here, six smart solutions for the sloped garden.

1. Build a retaining wall.

Landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck built a series of limestone retaining walls to manage drainage on her sloped property in Austin, Texas. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista. See more of this garden in our Gardenista book.
Above: Landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck built a series of limestone retaining walls to manage drainage on her sloped property in Austin, Texas. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista. See more of this garden in our Gardenista book.

Retaining walls are good for, well, retaining soil (and thus, preventing erosion), creating a flat surface for easy gardening, and often add an appealing architectural element to your garden. See Hardscaping 101: Retaining Walls.

2. Step it up.

Granite stairs bordered by ferns are cut into the hillside. Photograph courtesy of Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design, from After the Hurricane: The Resurrection of a Wild Garden in Maine.
Above: Granite stairs bordered by ferns are cut into the hillside. Photograph courtesy of Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design, from After the Hurricane: The Resurrection of a Wild Garden in Maine.

Don’t fight your topography; instead, lean into it by highlighting the slope with a set of meandering stone steps.

3. Go for terraces.

Photograph by Justine Hand, from Landscape Designer Visit: A Charming Cottage Garden Outside of Boston.
Above: Photograph by Justine Hand, from Landscape Designer Visit: A Charming Cottage Garden Outside of Boston.

If you’re dealing with a particularly steep slope but are fortunate to have both a large property and budget, consider creating a series of terraces for multi-level gardens.

4. Grow grasses.

Photograph by Jim Powell, from Can This Garden Be Saved: &#8
Above: Photograph by Jim Powell, from Can This Garden Be Saved: ‘I Have a Steep Slope’.

Letting ornamental grasses grow wild is a great budget idea that yields a soft, alluring hillside look. Mow a path that winds its way down the hill for reasons both aesthetic interest and practical.

5. Plant fleabane.

Fleabane thriving on a small slope. Photograph by Matthew WIlliams, from Gardening data-src=
Above: Fleabane thriving on a small slope. Photograph by Matthew WIlliams, from Gardening 101: Fleabane.

Not every plant will fare well on a slope. Choose ones that like quick-draining soil, like fleabane.

6. Add ground covers.

Sea thrift (Armeria maritima) forms helpful mats of ground cover on this slope. Photography by Claire Takacs, from Can This Garden Be Saved: &#8
Above: Sea thrift (Armeria maritima) forms helpful mats of ground cover on this slope. Photography by Claire Takacs, from Can This Garden Be Saved: ‘My Garden is Windy’

Low-maintenance ground covers are a good idea for slopes that would otherwise be difficult to mow.

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