Gardening On A Slope - Things You Need To Know

Though it seems like a challenging task, planting on a hilly site is quite easy. There are numerous possibilities available to you such as the building of retaining walls and terraces as well as the creation of rock gardens. All these methods help you get the most out of your garden and thus help you in utilizing your space to its optimum capacity. All you require to do is choose the best method applicable to you and a crop of your choice.

Selecting A Crop

Before you make any changes to your garden, it is essential that you decide on what crop you intend to grow. This choice will affect the subsequent steps and is thus very crucial. You can start by visiting your local nursery and seeing what they have. A chat with gardening experts can help you narrow down on some choices as they will help you in figuring out which crops will do well in your locality. Once you have a plant in mind, you can proceed to the next steps.

Making A Terrace

You need to dig at least six inches into the slope such that you can get a level area. You can dig as deep as twelve inches if your choice crop calls for this as the length is dependent on the root dimensions. The roots also call for an additional inch or two of soil for coverage, and you should take this into account when digging the slope.

The importance of a level area is that plants tend to grow faster and healthier on flat surfaces as opposed to angled spaces. In the latter option, their chances of survival are low. Terracing does not only make it easier for crops to grow but it also makes sowing an easy task for you. It also works as a foundation for your landscaping by providing a firm base for your crops. When making a terrace, do not dig out too much dirt as this can destabilize your landscaping and thus lead to the failure of your crops.

Retaining Wall

Other than digging into the slope, you can choose to have a retaining wall around your plants for added protection. In this way, you will not disturb your gradient, and its stability will remain unaltered. There are two ways in which you can do this. In the first one, you can make use of rocks to build up the ground level on the sides of the slope. In the second option, you can do the same thing with the use of topsoil. Both methods not only prevent your crops from moving down the gradient but they also ensure that moisture gets retained, thus reducing the amount of water you need to use.

When using topsoil to create the wall, use topsoil to the heights of six inches all the way to twelve inches as this will be strong enough to prevent the crops from moving. The same goes for rocks. Ensure that you dig into the slope at least a third the height of the intended addition; to increase stability if you choose to go higher than twelve inches. In this way, your wall will be safe from sliding down the slope. One reason why people tend to choose rocks over topsoil is that the former option helps the surrounding area maintain a rugged aesthetic.

Berms And Swales

This method is beneficial in providing plants with a stable environment in which they can thrive. Berms are developed regions while swales are hollows in the ground. When used on a slope, you start off by digging into the hilly area at least six inches deep and planting your chosen crop. Having covered the plant with an adequate amount of earth, you make a half-moon shape below the plant. In this way, the crop can rely on the ground underneath it for nutrients, and it will also have adequate access to moisture. As such, plants do not compete for nutrients, and the stable environment reduces the chances of soil erosion.

Planting Stage

The plant you choose can either make cultivation a breeze or pose challenges to the stability of your slope. Your safest bet in this regard is to select a crop which has clumping roots. These kinds of plant roots are very secure in the ground and thus will also hold soil particles together, ensuring that soil erosion remains at a minimum. Examples of crops that meet this standard are Creeping Flox and Indiangrass. Another way to enhance the stability of your slope is the use of ground cover crops to fill the gaps between plants. In this way, you can reduce the amount of erosion taking place. One such plant is the Creeping Raspberry which will increase the stability of your slope while offering an improvement in aesthetics.

Soil Assessment

You may decide on a given plant for its roots only to find that it does not do well in the soil conditions on your slope. As such, soil assessment is necessary at an early stage. There are many soil kits on the market which you can use to alter the conditions of your soil if you are set on growing a given crop. Otherwise, you can opt to sow plants which do best in the present circumstances.

You also need to look into weather conditions affecting your slope. Say for example that your slope receives a lot of sunlight in the afternoon; the crops you choose should be able to do well in such conditions. Climate also comes into play at this point.


Plant your chosen crops as per the amount of moisture they require. The ones that need less moisture should be at the top of the slope while those that require a lot of water should be at the bottom. In this way, you will spend less time on the maintenance of your garden.


Mulching is a necessity when growing crops on a slope as it reduces the rate of soil erosion by providing a cover. It also inhibits the germination of weeds which can disturb the stability of soil.

When gardening on a slope, what matters most is that you make decisions that will add to the stability of your garden, as opposed to choices that can adversely affect productivity.

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