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.


Using Lanterns to Beautify Your Outdoor Landscape

Outdoor lanterns have become one of the most popular lighting fixtures for landscapes. Homeowners recognize the need to bring aesthetic style into every aspect of their yards and lanterns are the perfect marriage of function and design.

Outdoor lanterns can be added to virtually any part of the landscape, whether decks, patios, gardens or any other area. They add a layer of warmth and style that not many other fixtures can. For this reason homeowners use lanterns in areas where they need light as well as the appearance of a more polished and decorated look.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some popular lantern types:

Wall Lanterns – Wall lanterns sit higher than the ground and stay mounted on outdoor walls to provide enough light to illuminate the area while adding a depth of warmth that soothes guests. Wall lanterns are normally used to emit a good amount of light, whether a deck or a patio, and they add an additional layer of design and style.

Choose from a variety of materials such as ebony wood, mahogany, nickel or brass. Though all are durable and stylish, the choice will be dependent on the particular design you want and what will match the overall décor of your home. Unfinished metals can be painted in the color of your choice to add “pizzazz” and a little life to your yard.

When choosing lanterns, consider the inner design of your home since your outdoor landscape is an extension of your indoor life. When people visit and they enter over the threshold into your yard, you want them to feel a seamless connection, not a disjointed dynamic.

Post Lanterns – Post lanterns sit on posts or piers. They are secured under the ground as opposed to on a wall. Post mount lanterns are a versatile option since they can be affixed in most areas of the landscape. They sit on posts and add a beautiful scene to the outdoor yard. Pier mount lanterns work well on fences, decks or any surface. Hide the wires behind fences or along the deck rails to make them less conspicuous.

Post lanterns are very stable and created from a rust-resistant metal since they are often exposed to the elements. Choose from a variety of finishes, light bulbs, and glass options. Post lanterns are also a great choice for safety lighting because they remain intact during the harshest weather conditions.

Chinese Lanterns – Chinese lanterns are popular not only in Asian-inspired landscape designs, but also in the yards of homeowners who appreciate soft, elegant light. Chinese lanterns emit a gentle, subtle light perfect for the outdoor evening tea or late-night “snuggle” on the porch swing. They are generally constructed of paper or bamboo and add a beautiful touch to any outdoor landscape.

There are any more lanterns from which to choose. Research your options online or visit your local hardware or lighting store to talk to a knowledgeable professional. Also, since the lantern’s wires may need to be run through your home’s walls or buried under the ground, installation may require the work of a landscape lighting professional.


How to Landscape Around a Deck

You just installed that great new deck you have been dreaming about for the better part of five years. You decide to set up your grill, add some sweet outdoor furniture, and even throw in a couple of Tiki torches for good measure.

Still – your yard leaves something to be desired. The area around your deck is painfully bare, and the spare “grassless” patches make your new backyard addition look shabby-chic at best. Fear not! Take a few simple steps to update your landscaping and get your yard looking as spiffy as your new deck.

Planters and Container Gardens

If your deck is the sprawling, “outdoor living space” variety, then it likely takes up a good portion of your yard. For decks such as this, one landscaping option is to incorporate the plant life into the deck itself. A great way to accomplish this is to start a container garden. Visit your local nursery and pick up some plants that grow well when potted. Buy matching pots in various sizes, pot the plants, and display proudly in a couple of your deck’s more prominent corners.

You can also work non-plant elements into your on-deck landscaping design. For example, adding a water feature invokes a spa-like vibe in your very own backyard. The sounds of rushing water will add a tranquil element to your outdoor living space, and the piece will look gorgeous beside the burst of color spilling from the flowers in your container garden.

Landscaping around Smaller Decks

If your deck is small and you have lots of unused yard space, then landscaping your yard around your deck is vital for healthy aesthetic appeal. Weigh key factors such as typical weather patterns and climate in your area before you begin picking plants and shrubs for your deck landscaping. Consider other issues such as maintenance, type of soil, correct growing season, and access to sunlight when you’re deciding what plants to buy as well.

It’s a good idea to measure the area surrounding your deck and select shrubs that will fill the space without overcrowding. Remember, you can select a few key plants at first to keep your overall project cost down. Then, when you observe how they perform in your yard, begin purchasing other smaller plants to fill in the blank spaces.


Lighting is another important landscaping factor to consider. There’s no point having a great new deck without enough light to see anything at night. When you’re planting shrubs around your deck, leave enough space to install small, hidden, solar-powered lights that shine up onto your deck. You can always add other on-deck lighting, too – but the lighting in the landscaping is what will give your deck and surrounding plants real pizazz. You’ll achieve a glow that will create a killer atmosphere for summertime parties and lazy outdoor dinners at home.

You don’t have to get fancy when landscaping around a deck. If you use strategic and well-placed lawn ornaments, lighting, and shrubs, you can enjoy a pleasing area where everyone will want to hang out.