How To Manage A Sloped Garden
Sloping gardens can be a lovely sight, but they do offer very special challenges when it comes to creating and maintaining this type of green space.
Drainage is definitely the key. One of the biggest problems faced by any sloped garden is the fact that water will invariably drain quickly downwards leaving you with potentially dry soil at the top, and boggy, wet areas at the bottom. This can be very serious if the water is draining towards the house as it can ultimately lead to flooding.
There are several ways this can be dealt with, for example, you can work with the situation and create a pond at the bottom of the slope. Water can be encouraged to drain automatically into the pond. Alternatively, you could consider creating a bog garden in which water loving plants grow. Drainage channels can be constructed to take the water away from the base of the slope - but this can involve considerable construction work.
Think too about the soil at the top of the slope. Add in plenty of manure and mulch to keep the soil moist all year round. Even the hardiest of drought loving plants need some water.
Another key problem when gardening on slopes is the potential for soil erosion. Soil will naturally gather at the base, leaving the top parts of the slope bare. This can be dealt with by creating small barriers at different levels around the slope. Planting the area with plenty of hardy plants such as evergreens, geraniums and other creeping plants will also help to stabilise the soil.
Cutting the grass
If you are planning to leave the area as a grassy slope, you will need to either let it become a wild meadow in the summer or take a lot of care cutting the grass. Hover mowers tend to be better at this task than rotary ones but if the slope is a very steep one, you will need a lot of strength to hold the mower in place while cutting the grass.
In wintertime, the base of the slope, especially if it is close to the house, can become a frost trap, so choose your plants carefully. It can also cast a lot of shadow if you are planning a seating area at the base, or it is beside the house.
Steps are the best way of providing access up and down a sloped garden, but this can pose a problem if you have any mobility issues, or if there are young children in the house; there is always a risk of trips and falls. The best way to avoid this situation is to create a winding path that acts as a ramp from top to bottom. This can be costly, and can take a lot of construction work, so is best undertaken early in the garden design stage, before any planting takes place.
A sloped garden is definitely great fun and a wonderful challenge for any garden, but you need a lot of thought and care to make it work.