How to Landscape a Sloping Yard

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A sloping yard is a challenge to beginning and experienced landscapers alike. In addition to landscaping for visual appeal, the primary issues to address include water saturation and erosion. Creating a landscape plan for your yard is not complicated. The simplest landscape solutions for a slope often imitate nature. If your house is at the bottom of the slope, prioritize installing a drainage system to prevent damage to your home's foundation.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscape timbers or stones
  • Weed barrier fabric
  • Compost
  • Topsoil
  • Shrubs
  • Wildflowers
  • Mulch
  • Spade
  • Ground cover
  • Perforated drainage pipe
  • Trees
  • Boulders
  • Make a diagram of the sloped yard and mark existing, permanent features. Decide if you want to leave grass over the gentlest part of the slope, or reduce maintenance by removing it entirely. Note the number of hours of sunlight the slope receives and identify the steepest part of the yard.

  • Install tiered terraces up the steepest areas. Construct 3-foot retaining walls with pressure-treated timbers or dry-stacked stones. Line the outer walls with weed barrier fabric and fill the terraces with soil from the slope. Mix about 4 inches of equal parts compost and topsoil into the planting area to add good bacteria to the ground.

  • Plant hardy, low-maintenance shrubs on the terraces to prevent soil from eroding and to add color and texture. Junipers, hostas and wildflowers are a few examples of plants to choose from. Cover the plant beds with mulch, but avoid using bark mulch, as the large nuggets can float away.

  • Remove grass with a spade and replace it with ground cover. Ground cover offers color and it prevents erosion. English ivy, clover and purple-leaved wintercreeper are examples of plants that grow aggressively up an incline. Plant seeds or seedlings in the ground and surround the area with organic mulch to prevent erosion while the roots develop.

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  • Install a perforated drainage pipe at the foot of the hill to carry excess water to a designated swale or soakaway.

  • Plant water-loving trees near the bottom of the slope to help absorb moisture. Easter red cedar, willow and river birch trees are a few types of trees that absorb significant amounts of water and don't die if their roots stay wet for several days at a time.

  • Embed medium-sized boulders randomly around the slope. Sink one-third of the stones in the ground and pack dirt around the base for stability. Boulders add contrast to plants and accentuate the contours of a slope.

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