Landscaping a shady sloped area

by Teresa Ellis
(Kansas City, Kansas)

Landscaping in the Shade

Landscaping in the Shade




This area is very shady and when it rains water runs down the middle of it. We've seeded and seeded it over the years but it just will not take. We tried sod knowing this would be risky in the shade. I figured it would thin out but not completely disappear which it did despite babying it along.

I would love to be able to continue the stone sidewalk off the deck to meet the sidewalk in the foreground BUT the downspout from the house comes out at the end of the row of rocks seen on the far right so the water would be blocked. My idea is to continue off the end of the stone sidewalk with stepping stones to the sidewalk in the foreground??? Note that the water runs down the hill where the seam in the sidewalk is (center, foreground). My next idea is to just start planting English ivy, hosta, and hydrangeas.

Any ideas would be so appreciated. We're exasperated!

ANSWER

It's always nice to have some lawn and it is an inexpensive ground covering. However, if it won't grow, it won't grow!

You could create a lovely planted area here with, as you mentioned, a walkway going from the sidewalk to the walk near the deck. I would do large casual bluestones or something really interesting. Take a look at the creative stepping stone walkways here:

Stone Walkways

Notice how many of them are surrounded by plantings to create a very casual, colorful, textured design. In some of the photos, there are even plants placed between the stepping stones, which would help your drainage problem. I would plant the entire area with shade loving plants. In the wetter areas, be sure to use plants that also can take wet conditions. You can visit my page on
shade perennials. I also mention some shrubs there. You mentioned Hydrangea. I think they would look great in that area and do well.

Ferns, Hosta, Hydrangea, Liriope, Bleeding Heart, and Epimedium are all good choices. You'll have to do a search for those that like it wet, although I think many of them do.

To keep the costs down, a large portion could be groundcover. If you were to mix Pachysandra, Ajuga, Vinca and different varieties of Epimedium you could get a nice tapestry look going. You could have a lot of fun with this area. Arbors are a nice feature.

Another idea would be to add an arbor where the walk starts at the sidewalk and have vines growing over it such as Climbing Hydrangea. There are lots of pretty arbors available. Here is my page on arbors.

Try to make the design full and lush. The area doesn't look that sloped in the photo but maybe it is deceiving. Don't forget to modify the soil so that it has excellent drainage. This, along with the roots of the plants absorbing water, should help the drainage. Soil alone without any covering is the worst situation for erosion and water collection.

To modify the soil, I would suggest 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 cow manure, and 1/3 peat moss.

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sloping areas around my driveway

by carolyn
(new harmony utah)

I have a 250 foot curving driveway which has a slope around half of it. The dirt from above washes down and created river-lets in the slope. I am looking for low ground cover to help alleviate this problem. I live in the high deserts of southern Utah. The ground is somewhat sandy. Can you recommend something that will look nice and help with this problem?

Carolyn

ANSWER

Hi Carolyn,
I have a slope on my front yard too and addressed it last year. Take a look at this page on my site to see how I dealt with it, what plants I used, and how they are doing.

Xeriscape Plants

You'll have to check to see if they are hardy in your area (you are in Zone 5A).

You can either mulch it after it is planted or allow the plants to take over. Another option is to just use groundcover. If you have some shade, Ivy, Pachysandra, and Vinca will work, although Vinca is the slowest grower.

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steep slopes

by Phil
(Brentwood, CA)

Is there a typical maximum slope for residential landscaped banks? There is a long, high bank at the end of my backyard that is 2:1. I find it unsafe to work on to prune and weed the landscaping. What is a safe maximum slope for residential landscaped areas?

ANSWER

An acceptable slope for mowing and general maintenance is 3:1. I would imagine that a 2:1 incline is difficult to do anything with...it's quite steep.

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What to plant on a large, long slope

Xeriscape Plants on a Slope

Xeriscape Plants on a Slope


I have a large, long, steep slope beside my driveway into my yard. We have such a hard time weed-eating it. My husband turned while weed-eating it and broke his leg. We really needs some very good inexpensive ways to fix this area problem. I NEED HELP!

Thanks so much, Sara

ANSWER

You mentioned in your email that your slope is sunny. What happens in these situations is that plants dry out quickly due to the hot sun and also runoff from the slope. Water does not get as much of a chance to percolate down to the roots as if the plants were on a flat surface.

In this case, I would suggest drought tolerant, low maintenance plants, known as xeriscaping. There are some wonderful plants that you can use that will need little maintenance. Of course water them well in the beginning to get them established, but this should not take too long.

What to plant on a large long slope? The best thing to do is visit my page on Xeriscape Plants.

I had the same situation on my own property. On the above page I explain what I needed to do, how I did it and what plants I used. The landscape design and plants I used were extremely successful. I say this because during this long hot summer they needed very little care and look great.

The above photo is when they were first put in.

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Hiding a Telephone Box on a Sloped Yard

by Judith Wright
(SC)

Sloped yard

Sloped yard

I live in an HOA. I only have about 20' in length of yard, and it has a 4' slope with a telephone box at property line. It's like right in my face. I have an enclosed porch to look out into the wetlands. HOA won't let me build a deck. The slope prevents a lot of planting it seems. What can I do to hide box?

ANSWER
If I understand your property/sloped yard, it slopes across the width, not the length. Your porch is at the rear of your house and your view there is towards the rear of your property where the box and the woods are. If I'm wrong, let me know.

One thing you could do is create a bed as an extension of the woods. It could curve out to in front of the telephone box and then swing back in. Whether you connect the bed to the woods or not, if you plant some medium to tall evergreen shrubs in front of the box, it will block it. How tall they have to be depends on how high your porch is.

It looks like you are pretty sunny in that area. There are a lot of varieties of Blue Holly that would work. China Girl is one of the lower ones, reaching about four or five feet high.

In front of the Hollies, you could plant some colorful perennials.

Your slope does not look that severe, so regarding the plants, I would ignore it.

If you have any further questions or comments, just add them here under Comments.

I hope this helped....Susan

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Brick Wall Along a Slope For Plants

by Jeannie

I am trying to figure how to build a brick wall for flowers along the sloping side wall of the house. I would appreciate any ideas you have.

ANSWER

Hi Jeannie,
Could you send a picture or give me some more information?
1. Where does it slope to...what direction?
2. How steep is it? Can you mow?
3. Are you looking for design ideas or construction methods?

Thanks,
Susan

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Sloped Front Lawn

by Carol

I have a sloped front lawn need some ideas.

ANSWER

Carol,
There are many aspects of a property that determine what should be planted and how it should be arranged. Perhaps you can answer some of these questions.
1. Where do you live (I need to determine your plant zone.)?
2. Is the area sunny, shady or a little of both? If both, when is it sunny...morning or afternoon?
3. Do you have a deer problem?
4. Is the slope severe or gentle?
5. Approximately how far is it from your house to the street and how wide is the area.
6. Do you have a picture you can send?

You also might visit my page on Landscaping Steep Slopes


Thanks,
Susan

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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