A perfectly level yard is unusual. Ideally, a building should be slightly elevated from its surroundings so that moisture flows away and does not settle at the foundation or even seep into the basement. Some yards, however, have hills and gullies that make the area difficult to maintain or cause ugly spots where nothing seems to grow.
Design the landscape to bring uneven slopes under control and make them interesting focal areas for your home.
Proper planting on a slope will help in erosion control, but disturbing existing vegetation will make the problem worse until the new root systems become established. Prevent erosion when planting on a slope by working a small area at a time Dig only the planting holes at first, leaving the surrounding grass to aid in erosion control until the new plantings become established. Rainfall during any maintenance on the slope can wash away all of the hard work, including taking the fertilizer, seed or new plants.
Low maintenance, quick growing groundcovers can solve many sloping garden problems. Many groundcovers, however, can become invasive. Be careful when choosing the type of plant to cover the slope.
Creating terraces or level planting beds on a slope is called re-contouring. While steep slopes need the help of service professionals, shallow slopes can often be re-contoured by the homeowner with just a shovel and a wheelbarrow.
Many landscape designs build artificial slopes and depressions for added interested. For the homeowner lucky enough to have a natural slope, the cost of the re-contouring is deducted from the budget, leaving more money for plants and erosion control.
If the slope is so steep that it is dangerous to mow, consider using terraces. By leveling narrow areas and building shallow retaining walls, steep areas of the landscape become adaptable for an easier to maintain garden, and also eliminate erosion. The width of the terrace should be planned for future maintenance, depending on whether it is planted with grass, bedding plants, or allowed to grow into a low maintenance naturescape with native plants. Logs, lumber, landscape timbers and boulders can be used to hold soil in place for raised garden beds on the slope. Fill in with a good organic soil.
Plant around the Hill
When planting a slope, place the plants across the slope, not up and down. Stagger the plants, so that during a rainfall the water doesn't run straight down the hill, like it will if the plants are in straight rows or lines. Place mulch between the plants until they have grown large enough to fill in the area to help keep the soil in place.
Encourage vines at the top of a slope to grow downward by planting them so that the stems drape downward. When planting them at the bottom, allow the stems to point up.