Hillside landscape is the most challenging of all residential design problems. Whether it is a natural undisturbed slope or one composed of cut-and-fill, there are five essentials that every homeowner should be aware of. Not all designers will be skilled in this special situation, so you must know your options before decisions are made; that can not only be extraordinarily expensive to implement, they can have far reaching impact on the stability of your entire homesite.
First you want to preserve the view, but carefully. You may be tempted to take down the biggest and view blocking trees but tree roots are a great way to keep a hillside solid. So, it’s not a good idea to log your entire property. Hiring an arborist can help decide which trees could be cut down and which ones could be thinned out for a view.
Secondly, slope your space as gradually as possible. Any time you cut into the slope you compromise the integrity of the slope. So, go slow. To preserve the slope, take up the grade with a series of shorter terraces rather than one or two very large ones graded with cut and fill. The larger terraces may require extreme erosion control measures on the cut slope and a substantial retaining wall must be specially engineered to hold the fill. Such walls are constructed with enormous footings, sometimes extending down to bedrock.
Next, use woody plants to bind deep underground. When creating multiple retaining walls or building pads the natural layers of the soil will inevitability be compromised. By planting woody plants and select trees they will reach far down to secure the slope. Some great plants to plant on slopes are rosemary, creeping juniper, purple coneflower, astilbe, and Lily-of-the-valley.
Another way to protect your sloped property is to protect the soil surface. By covering the exposed soil is great way to extend the longevity of a sloped landscape. As touched on above, any type of ground over is a useful plant on a slope. Research your area to see what would do well in your sun and shade areas. By protecting the soil, you don’t want to completely soak the soil as it will erode quickly. Install a drip line system to ensure that plants get the water they need and your property remains stable.
Lastly, this brings us to maintenance and accessibility. Now that you’ve planted woody material on a slope in an area that is dry you are at a higher risk for fires. So, keep this area maintained. Provide an open through-way to drag out cut material off the slope. In addition, have an accessible area for firefighters to put out a blaze if this should occur.
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A hillside landscape shouldn’t scare you away from your dream home, just know it comes with special circumstances you’ll have to be willing to take on. Call us today and schedule a time for our experts to come and walk your property and work with you to create a gorgeous hillside landscape design!