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.


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.


Landscaping – Lighting the Garden

It may be a little early in the season to think about a garden.  However, if you are considering lighting your garden, this may be the best time of year to put your plan into action.

Depending on what type of lighting design you desire, you will most likely have to do some digging. For this reason, installing your lighting before growing season begins may be a good planning choice. When planning your outdoor lighting, start with a diagram of lighting placement, the plants you want in your garden, and perhaps think about a splash of color lighting as well.

Then ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will the lighting act as a “spot light” on the garden?
  • Would you rather have a softer illumination?
  • How much lighting do you want to use?
  • Placement of the lights?
  • What type of lighting?
  • What is your budget?
  • Will your budget allow for hiring a professional?

If you have already tackled outdoor lighting, and you are experienced with transformers and voltage, go ahead and start the project. But, if you are not experienced or properly equipped to complete a full outdoor lighting project, hire a professional to install your lighting.

You can purchase your lighting, fixtures, spot lights, etc. to save some costs, but hire a professional to perform the actual installation, especially if you need to dig and lay wiring.

A professional landscaper can take your diagram, work with your ideas, decipher your questions, and complete your garden lighting project before next spring—and do it safely.

Solar Lighting

If you choose a more modest do-it-yourself project, use solar lights, for they are a safer and quicker option.

Solar powered lighting has become a popular garden lighting option.  Solar lamps are portable and easy to maneuver. This will allow you to try different layouts and move the lamps around until you find a design you like. Garden solar lighting serves several purposes besides their easy maneuverability. First, they are energy efficient, and second, they emit a softer light and are not over powering. Solar lights are also a low cost option because they are so energy efficient. If you are concerned about high costs, price solar lights to determine if they meet your budget. Solar lighting is also ideal in warmer climates where the sun shines most of the year.

If you have any questions about which lights would be best for your garden, speak to a professional or visit your local hardware/nursery store. Many of the associates are knowledgeable about landscaping lighting options and may offer advice you have not heard before.

Regardless of the lights you choose, take time to select a design that works for your lifestyle and your décor. Treat your outside as you would your inside and you will have a garden you can cherish for years to come.