Steep slopes can be a big landscaping challenge. They are hard to water, prone to erosion and often hard to maintain. But with the proper terracing, you can transform your troublesome slope into a beautiful terraced garden. Terraces are an excellent place to show off vines, trailing plants and shrubs, and can even support a thriving vegetable garden. The possibilities are endless.
Make an Edible Garden
If the slope you plan to terrace gets full sun, a terraced vegetable garden could be a great addition to your landscape. With the right planning, growing a vegetable garden on a slope is actually a great way to conserve space and get the most out of your land. Placing the tallest plants on the top row and shorter plants on the bottom will also give your plants full access to sunlight and ample space to grow. Start at the top by planting a row of peas shortly after the first frost. Peas are relatively easy to grow and will start producing in early to mid June. They are climbers, though, so make sure you create an adequate trellis for them to grow up. On the next terrace, try a row of tomatoes. These taste great with a little basil, so consider planting some on the terrace below. If you’re worried about your garden lacking colour, plant marigolds in between the tomatoes and along the borders of each terrace. Marigolds act as a natural pest deterrent, and can add a delightful splash of colour to any vegetable garden. On the bottom terrace, consider planting kale or rainbow chard, named for its bright red, orange and yellow stems. These will be edible well into the fall, and keep your garden looking fresh in the colder months.
Create a Garden Waterfall
A terrace is the perfect excuse to improve the atmosphere of your garden with the soothing sound of running water. To complement your garden waterfall, add vines and trailing plants to your flower beds. These will mimic the effect of the falling water and create a rich, verdant impression. If your terrace gets full sun, nasturtiums are an excellent choice. These can grow from 2 to 5 feet long and will produce bright orange flowers from late summer to early fall. For shady areas, try Fragrant Trailing Scandent Begonia, a variety known as 'Brazilian Heart.' Plant these flowers on the front edge of each terrace so that they hang down over the terrace walls. To add a peaceful scent to the picture, line the back of each bed with lavender and sage.
Steep slopes generally require more dramatic landscaping. If your terraced garden has high walls supporting each bed, you may want to think about the walls themselves. Many landscapers favour plain brick or stone walls that are tightly mortared together. These are easier to build and will provide adequate support for your beds, but they may not be the most attractive option. Walls made of natural stone, ideally stones of different shapes and sizes, are far more interesting to the eye. They also provide a haven for moss, flowers and creeping vines, which will create a more natural impression. If your garden is relatively shady, accent your walls with cypress vine, also known as cardinal vine or star glory. A relative of the morning glory, this hardy vine can grow more than 10 feet high, and produces many small flowers in white, yellow, pink, purple and red. Planting anthurium (flamingo flower) in front of the cypress vine will add a layer of colour to complete the picture. Its bright red spathes stand out in any situation, and it thrives in the shade of a garden wall.