Landscape Design for Hillside Homes

Hillside homes in Lebanon County, PA offer some of the best views, but landscaping on those slopes demands specific focus in order to address potential issues. Whether it is a naturally occurring slope or one artificially graded, there are essentials every homeowner should be aware of. Hills and slopes create water runoff, sliding soil and unstable foundation. However, several designs can be applied to make better use of the uneven ground.

Introducing a Layered Design

Hills and slopes can turn a landscape into a tiered display. To disguise this, different landscaping elements can be layered, one above the other, with the natural taper creating depth and contrast between each part. Taller structures and plants should be placed at the base of the hill where they draw attention upward where smaller, ornamental and less obvious features can be arranged.

Woody Plants and Ground Cover to Bind Slope Deep Underground

Hills are composed of layers of soil, with the topsoil being the most valuable in terms of nutrients that are readily available for plants. The natural binding of layers is often lost when a slope is altered to create building pads or if left devoid of plant life. When heavy rains fall, the water saturates the deeper layers. When they become wet enough, loose topsoil is lost in slews. Planting trees or ground cover with a deep network of fine roots is effective at binding subsoil layers.

Protect Surface from Rain Spatter and Runoff

Because slopes are prone to soil erosion, when rain falls, each drop falling on a bare surface dislodges further soil particles. The velocity of runoff causes more soil to be scoured off the surface. Laying rocks or plantings with wide spread foliage reduces the velocity of runoff, thus preventing scouring and protecting the soil.

Landscape Design for Lebanon County, PA Hillside Homes

Walkways and Stairs

Take advantage of the naturally occurring slope - it can be accented with a winding path or elegant stone staircase. Natural stone from the immediate area can be placed flat side up creating harmony with the space. A very steep area can be layered using a winding path made of bricks, pavers or cobbles. The addition of turns can be used to create a feeling of more space than actually exists while making for an easier walk. Over time, plantings can grow so dense that an area becomes impenetrable. Planted slopes should remain accessible to maintenance staff for vegetation management. Steps and walkways can therefore help with accessibility for maintenance purposes.

Flora to Balance Surface Levels

Flora creates a balance between various uneven levels. Some parts of a hilled area may be receiving sunlight while others are in the shade due to the unevenness of the ground. Some may end up with more water runoff than others due to their positioning. Placing the right plants in the right places helps. Knowing which plants thrive best in what location comes in handy in landscaping a hill. Consult your landscape professional when deciding on plants and their placement for slopes.

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Retaining Walls

Retaining walls divide hillsides into more manageable sections. Retaining walls are typically constructed of stone or concrete, making them strong and well-anchored. When placed on hillsides they hold back soil so it cannot slide away. This creates space below that can be cut into, leveled or left as a slope. A single retaining wall may be enough to accent a hilly piece of ground, or several walls may be needed to provide the necessary strength and produce a terraced appearance.

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