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GardenSMART :: Taming a Slope

Taming a Slope

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Gardening on flat land is one thing, but gardening on a slope? Now that can be a real challenge. You might choose to avoid the issue and not use that part of your landscape. Or you might choose to look at it this way: if you're paying taxes on that land, you might as well make the most of it.

Let's look at how one couple decided to make the most of their formerly unusable, hot, sunny slope by transforming it into a dramatic focal point.

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Before this hillside was terraced using irregular-sized slabs of weathered sandstone outcropping, it was just a plain old hill. It was hard to navigate without twisting an ankle, so the area was avoided.

By adding a stacked stone staircase and three tiers of planting beds, these homeowners reclaimed the space and created new opportunities to showcase some of their favorite drought tolerant plants, like Vermillionaire® cuphea and Lemon Coral® sedum, that don't require frequent watering.

Shrubs and perennials were installed first to bind the soil in place and prevent erosion. Then the gaps were filled with colorful, easy care annuals. Lastly, a generous layer of shredded hardwood mulch was spread to conserve moisture and keep the plants' roots cool.

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The tamed slope includes an inviting walkway and several tiers of usable planting beds which feature beautiful, drought tolerant plants like Luscious® lantana, Mojave® portulaca, Rockin'® salvia and more. Just as you would in a flat garden bed, the taller plants were positioned towards the back of each planting tier and towards the top of the slope. The shorter ones in front eventually grew to fill the space and soften the stone ledge.

Since gravity will pull water down the slope, the plants at the top might dry out faster than those at the bottom. However, the soil is shallower in the lowest tier so don't expect it to stay moist for too long. These homeowners won't have to worry since they chose to grow drought tolerant varieties throughout the slope.

Ready to try your hand at taming a slope this season? Here's a link to more information, including all the plants that were used in this project.

Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.

 


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