Gardening on a Slope

by April Reinhardt
(last updated December 28, 2015)

If I had a hillside on which to plant a garden, I think I'd have to reconsider gardening entirely. However, I have seen sloped yards and steep hillsides resplendent with blue, yellow, and vivid pink creeping phlox and secretly wish that I could cultivate that kind of beauty in my own yard. I know enough about plants to know that creeping phlox is not only easy to grow, it helps to stabilize a hillside against erosion. And that's one of the key factors for successful gardening on a slope; controlling erosion so that your garden doesn't end up tumbling down the slope.

While gardening on a slope can prove challenging, it is not impossible to do. Here are some great methods for gardening on a slope or hillside:

  • Prior planning. Plan ahead and consider the existing elements of the slope such as large stones, tree stumps, ponds, and large trees.
  • Erosion control. In clear areas of the slope, control erosion by planting ground cover. Plants and their roots help to hold the soil in place. Consider planting phlox, ivy, ornamental grasses, and hedges as a way to control erosion on a slope.
  • Water flow. If there is standing water on the slope, divert the water before planting your garden. Dig channels in the ground to carry water away and prevent further erosion of existing soil. Strip landscaping is another method to use to help stop the flow of water down a hillside and keep it where you want it. Plant ornamental grasses or ivy between the strips of plants to help stop soil erosion.
  • Terraces. Use terraces to hold your garden level. Staircase your terraces up a steep hillside and then plant your garden within the terraces. Terraces will not only stop erosion of soil, they help to hold vital water around the roots of your plants.
  • Wind. Convection causes breezes to flow upwards during the day, and down at night as the temperatures change. Using terraces or strip landscaping helps to block destructive wind patterns on a hillside or slope.

When gardening on a slope or hillside, remember that the angle of the slope is different to the sun than that of a piece of flat land. Easterly hillsides are warmer in the morning and cooler in the evening, while westerly slopes are cooler in the mornings and warmer in the afternoons. Also, south-facing hillsides receive the most sunlight while north-facing slopes remain very cool. Be sure that you consider those factors, as well, when deciding upon the type of plants you want to harvest.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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