Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Coping with Slopes

– Posted in: Garden Design

Gardening on a level lot is challenging enough, but when you have a sloping site, you have a whole other set of design and maintenance factors to consider. The soil is often dry and rocky, making planting a hassle, and rainfall tends to run off before it can soak in, carrying away precious topsoil and mulch — and sometimes even the plants, too — and leaving you a muddy mess to clean up at the bottom. On a steep slope, simply trying to get around for planting and maintenance can be downright dangerous.

From a design standpoint, though, slopes can offer some exciting opportunities. Changes in grade create reasons for dramatic steps and walls, as shown in Fran’s photo of her backyard (above). Sloping sites are also great for showing of plants with nodding blooms, such as Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus), Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina), and Japanese silverbell (Styrax japonica).

So, if you’re a gardener who has already conquered a sloping site, or if you’re stuck with a steep site and need some help, let’s get an angle on the whole coping-with-slopes topic.

  • Do you have (or need) tips for getting rid of tough-to-mow turf and getting new gardens or ground covers started?
  • How about suggestions for favorite plants that can thrive in the challenging conditions of a sloping site?
  • Have you (or are you hoping to) turn a slope into level terraces with some kind of walls?
  • Do you have tips for building steps and paths to make slopes easier to navigate?

If you’re new to the GGW Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop, here’s how it works: Write a post on anything related to designing for fall beauty on your own blog and give us the link below, or simply leave a comment if you don’t want to do a separate post. If you’ve written about the topic in the past, those links are equally welcome; it’s not necessary to create a new post to participate.

I’ll gather all of the links into one summary post for easy reference. It’ll go up on October 29, so please get your links in by the 27th if you want to be included in the wrap-up.

If you’re interested in checking out previous Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshops, you can find them here:

Paths and Walkways
Fences and Walls
Arbors and Pergolas
Color in the Garden
Container Plantings
Front-Yard Gardens
Stone in the Garden
Decks, Porches, and Patios
Garden Whimsy
Trellises and Screens
Water in the Garden
Sheds and Outbuildings
Incorporating Edibles
Kids in the Garden
Pets in the Garden
Wildlife in the Garden
Water-Wise Gardening
Labeling and Record-Keeping
Made for the Shade
Front Yards Revisited
Designing with Bulbs
Time in a Garden
The Garden in Fall

Don’t forget that you’re all welcome to go back and add links to these older posts at any time.

And if you’re on Facebook and enjoy the Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshops, please visit our GBDW page and become a fan!

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Nancy J. Ondra

Nancy J. Ondra

Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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