Steep slope landscaping ideas

Written by dee davies
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Steep slope landscaping ideas
Terraced slopes are safer and easier to manage. (Inca Terrace image by Towards Ithaca from

Steeply sloped yards present a number of problems for homeowners, landscape crews and gardeners. The steeper the slope of the yard, the more dangerous and tiring it is to mow or maintain plants. Soil is lost to erosion because water runs down the slope, carrying loose soil with it, rather than soaking into the ground. Use appropriate landscaping methods to minimise the danger, soil erosion and frustration associated with a steeply sloped yard.

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Retaining Walls

Washington State University reports that the most common way to address steeply sloped areas is to build a retaining wall. Homeowners can build one large wall or several walls to create a terraced landscape that allows for several strips of lawn or planting areas. The levelled areas make yard maintenance safer and easier. Materials used to build retaining walls and the steps that lead from one level to another include boulders, concrete, stones, bricks, treated wood and old sleepers.


Low maintenance plants cut down on the need to spend too much time fighting against the steep slope. As their roots grow and anchor into the soil, low maintenance plants control soil erosion due to water runoff. Amend the soil with rich, organic matter before planting; soil conditions are often poor on steep slopes. Select plants native to the area to further cut down on maintenance requirements, as native plants are generally tougher, disease resistant and require less water than non-native plants. Leave current vegetation in place until you are ready to plant, the roots of the old vegetation hold soil in place, suggests the Washington State University. If you are replanting a large area, cover the area with straw or erosion control netting, until you plant.Dig small basins into the side of the slope for planting. Keep areas in-between the planting beds covered with mulch to prevent weed growth and soil erosion during rains.

Ground Cover

Groundcovers are plants that spread rapidly and typically do not grow over 24 inches tall. Numerous varieties of groundcovers are available for purchase that thrive in all types of lighting conditions from full sun to deep shade. Effective groundcovers have a dense growth habit. They inhibit weed growth, the dense leaf cover protects the soil from heavy rains and the harsh, drying rays of the sun. Once established, they have extensive root systems that hold soils in place on steep slopes. The University of Colorado Cooperative extension warns that groundcovers that produce fruits and flowers are high maintenance. They require pruning, feeding and pest control measures.

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