How to Landscape Slopes

If your home is situated on a lot with a steep incline, you are most likely all too familiar with the landscaping difficulties that come with being the proud owner of a slope. Landscaping a slope or hillside is one of the toughest gardening challenges out there because of one key problem – gravity.

Landscaping your slope not only makes it more aesthetically pleasing – it’s also a fantastic way to protect your home from wildfires and erosion. It’s a statistical fact that a far greater number of homes on hillsides have been lost to out-of-control fires than ground-level homes. Keeping vegetation under control will protect your homestead during dry, hot months and it will look better too.

The other issue in the slope-risk equation is erosion. When it rains, slopes with mulch and clay can cause water to wash downward and collect at the base. This can lead to flooding, but it can also destroy plants at the bottom of the slope. The best way to control this issue is to utilize plants and ground coverings effectively to stop the sloughing. Let’s examine some additional tips for landscaping slopes.

Slope Landscaping Essentials

Ground covering, as mentioned above, is one of the best ways to landscape a slope. Once it begins growing, it requires minimal upkeep. Opt for aesthetically pleasing ground cover as an easy solution. If the slope is not too steep, a ground cover creates a clean appearance that is surprisingly easy to maintain. Most landscapers use ivy as a ground cover, opting for species such as Baltic English Ivy or Ebony Spleenwort. Others use traditional grasses like Sideoats Grama or Inland Sea Oats to keep the soil in place.

If you’re looking for something requiring a little less upkeep (but a little more upfront cash) you may consider installing a retaining wall at the base of your slope. Retaining walls are a perfect solution for hillsides or slopes that are simply too steep to landscape. You can even plant flowers and shrubs behind the wall to dress up your lawn even more.

Other Tips for Landscaping a Hillside

When people purchase homes on hillsides, they’re usually doing so because of the killer view. In fact, many hillside homes have a higher price point for this very reason, so blocking or otherwise altering the view with landscaping would negatively influence the value of the entire property. Not only that – if you accidently block the view for other houses, it could potentially affect property values for your neighbors as well. If the view is an issue, then make sure whatever landscape you choose leaves the same view accessible for you and your neighbors after you plant it.

Adding larger plants as a ground covering works wonders as well. This technique holds in the soil because the roots keep the ground from eroding. Try sprinkling sturdy shrubbery and perennial flowers in with your main ground covering to add texture to the area.

Hillside ground covering will add an extra dimension to your existing landscape and it will help protect your property from dangerous wildfires and erosion for years to come.


Landscaping – The Appealing Drive Up

The front of a house has its “first” impression just as people do, and it is often referred to as the “drive up appeal” or “curb appeal.”

Does your home have that special something that makes it stand out?
Is it eye-catching?
Does it make your neighbors just a little jealous they live next door to you? 

Then you’ve done your job, and probably don’t need to finish reading this article…

BUT, if you feel you could use just a little something, or maybe a whole over haul, we might have a few pointers for you.

There are many factors to improve the “first” impression appeal of your home; as a matter of fact, there are several books written on this topic alone, especially if you are in the market to sell.  However, let’s focus on just a few items if you don’t want to sell, but rather improve the appearance of your home. Let’s touch on the front entry, landscaping and lighting.

In the ancient art of Feng Shui, the entrance of a home represents the image you want to present to the world and indicates the view we have of ourselves.  According to Stephen Skinner’s book titled, Feng Shui, “The front door of your home is perhaps the most important feng-shui indicator.  It is like the mouth of your dwelling and determines what ch’i is drawn into your home.”

The sidewalk leading to your front door should have a slight curve to it and never be a straight-on shot from the street.  This creates too much energy flow coming into the home.  To break this and to create more appeal to the walk way, we can incorporate two of our above mentioned improvement factors; landscaping and lighting.

Along the path leading to your entry, place solar lamps a few feet apart on both sides to not only outline the sidewalk, but also to light the way to your front door.  Solar lamps come in many styles.  They are energy efficient and light normally at dusk.  Most can last up to 8 to 10 hours.

Lining the sides of the walkway with colorful flowers or small easy-to-care scrubs also gives a nice flow to the front door, but make sure that the scrubs are not too high to avoid blocking the view of the entry.  An archway filled with ivy at the entry of the path is another option to soften the overall design.

At the front door itself, place potted plants or flowers on each side giving a welcoming feel. Make sure the plants/flowers are well groomed from dried leafs and petals.

Front porch lighting is almost always a necessity, but here again; you can be creative with the type of fixtures and whether or not you want just one light or two on opposite sides of the front door.  Using a timer for the front porch light is an option, but consider the benefits of not having to remember to turn it on every night or while you’re away.

Landscaping the front of your house in your “personal taste” will make your “coming home” feel welcoming and relaxing.  But keep in mind the “curb appeal” and your neighborhood in general.

You may want to drive around your neighborhood to get some ideas, see what plants are appealing to you.  You can always go to a nursery, but sometimes seeing plants, trees and flowers in a settled environment will spark your creative juices and may also give you an essence of your surroundings, especially if you are new to the area.

There are so many options when deciding what to plant, what to take away, and what outdoor lighting to use. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how “you” feel when you drive up to your home and how it appeals to you.


3 Eco-friendly Outdoor Holiday Lighting Ideas

When the holidays come around, you want to make sure your outdoor lights are perfect for the occasion. Even if you don’t celebrate, there’s something about “I survived 12.21.2012” that will give you something to be glad for! Besides, everyone is in a festive mood, so it’s a great time to light up your yard and join in the festivities.

Today, more people are conscious about not wasting electricity than ever before, and they are constantly on the look-out for better ways to help the environment on a personal level. Let this be your final contribution to the earth for the magical year it has been.


You definitely saw this one coming, didn’t you? Light-Emitting Diodes are prolific in today’s technology – televisions, computers and nearly all types of electronic gadgets carry these in one form or another; so why not your outdoor landscape lighting for the holiday season? Serial mini-lights are typically used to adorn your landscape components, and they can make your garden sparkle at night.

Drape them around trees or garden statues and ornaments, or use them to line your driveway or garden path. They are very versatile and lend themselves to creativity easily. But be careful of wiring or overloading your circuits with excessive use.

Use a Programmable Timer

This is a very efficient way of saving electricity and the environment. Change the settings according to the social events you host throughout the holidays. The idea is to only use the lights when people are either in your yard or you can see them from the outside. For New Year’s Eve, for example, set them to run a little longer – maybe until about 2 or 3 am. On the other days, time them to go off exactly at midnight. You might want them to come on as you turn on the inside lights in the evening, or any time you prefer. A timer is efficient and a great way to save power, and it will help keep your light bill down – considering the season.

Use Solar Lanterns or Natural Covered Candles

Investing in solar lanterns can help you year round – not just for the holidays. To add a little color, consider colored gel papers that are used in theaters and music concerts. You can also try natural candles inside a lantern dome so it’s suitable for outdoor use. Both these options are very creative and will impress your guests much more than traditional lighting. Hang them on tree branches; set them along your porch, or create a magical garden pathway to the party area. But be careful of fire hazards and make sure the kids can’t get to them if you’re using candles.

These three ideas can make “conservation” the focal point of the festivities. When coupled with other green ideas, they make for a great holiday theme, too.