Marin Home / GARDEN
Transform a sloping yard into
a striking garden. KIER HOLMES
Hills got you down ... or up? Gardening is always challenging, but one of
the most difficult of all garden design
problems is landscaping on a slope.
And in mountainous Marin, many
homeowners are not blessed with a
flat yard. Here are some top tips for
those inclined to tame their tilt.
FIRST STEPS Start by evaluating
your hill’s pitch. If it’s more than
30 degrees, consider terracing the area to mitigate topsoil
erosion. An unplanted or unstabilized hill can be hazardous
during the rainy season.
RE TAIN THIS Consider building retaining walls to create
terraces. Most municipalities
require a permit and a design
from a structural engineer if your
wall is a certain height.
TERRACE FIRMA To preserve
slopes, construct a series of
shorter terraces rather than large
ones. When hills are cut, the
land’s integrity is compromised
because nutrient-deficient and
ill-draining subsoil is exposed.
RISE ABOVE IT Build a deck over
a steep downward slope to pro-
vide a more usable level space.
SIGHT LINES Some home values are based on the view, so
define your important areas with
your neighbors before starting your project and research
ultimate tree and shrub heights
THE JUTE OF IT Install jute
erosion control netting before
planting on very steep slopes.
Secure it with U-shaped galvanized pins. To plant in it, cut
small X shapes in the jute and
plant your greenery through it.
BE TTER WITH BERMS To retain
extra rainwater and irrigation,
create small planting wells with
small berms on the downhill side
of plants, using soil left over
from your planting holes.
THINK DEEP Plant woody, deep-rooted trees, shrubs, spreading
ground covers, perennials and
ornamental grasses to provide
underground stability and a
dense network of fine roots.
Focus on plants that are drought
BE A DRIP The goal is to give
water time to penetrate roots
instead of wastefully running
off — install drip irrigation with a
timer at a slow application rate.
Place the emitters on the uphill
side of plants.
HILL DWELLERS Try these
hillside plants: artemisia, ceanothus, creeping bramble, rock
rose, rugosa rose, creeping rosemary, correa, breath of heaven
and Russian sage.