Follow this blog series, “Gardening on Slopes,” for practical advice on site analysis, setting goals, creating access, plant selection, irrigation, and maintenance.
Gardening is different on slopes. Who would disagree? A steep slope is not for garden sissies, but with planning, perseverance, and technique, you can turn your hillside into a garden paradise. As a newbie to mountain gardening in 2009, I was determined to conquer my steep slope homesite and transform it from bare clay and weedy growth to green and luscious.
The obvious—and not so obvious
On steep slopes, you deal with obvious things, like how to install plants—and make them stick to the side of the hill—stormwater runoff, and erosion control. Slopes can be dry, so irrigation is both needed and tricky. And gardening on steep slopes is just plain hard work. Climbing up and down the slopes to plant or maintain is akin to mountain climbing—it takes leg strength and balance. My greatest learning, though, came from things you don’t face on level ground—getting access and understanding visual perspective.
Access and perspective
I can’t get a wheelbarrow or lawn mower onto my slopes. I have to carry everything I use—soil, rocks, mulch, plants—in and out by hand. Perspective is different when you’re on a slope. You’re either looking up, where you see the trunks of trees and shrubs, the stalks of flowers, and the underside of the branches above you. Or you’re looking down, where you see the tops or crowns of the plants. Your view is often wide-ranging—you see more in one glance than you do on flat ground.
Follow my blog over the next few days to learn the steps I took—analyzing the site, defining goals, choosing the right plants, and managing maintenance. Recognize how different areas of your property may require different approaches and pick up some handy techniques for gardening on steep slopes.
Article written by Beth Leonard, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.