Ideas for Hillside Gardens
Hillside gardens may at first thought be an almost impossible hurdle to establishing anything like a normal garden. Quite the reverse is true. Unless they are.bounded by tall trees on all sides, such gardens will invariably get sunshine for part of the day, and if they face anywhere within the southern are of the sun they will catch more than their fair share.
In order to accommodate plants, however, it will be almost essential to terrace the site, so that the growing areas can be made a less acute angle than 30 degrees, for if steeper it will be difficult to stoperosion and enable efficient cultivation of the ground, especially if vegetables, fruit and bedding plants are grown.
The use of winding paths towards the top, interconnected with broad, terraced cross-walks. Is perhaps best. They will give many levels to the garden, from which attractive views can be had up and down.
If the house is old then soft brick or stone looks better for terrace walls than bright reconstructed stone or concrete blocks, though the latter is ideal for modern properties.
One of the best types of stone for terraces is random-squared in which the blocks are of different sizes. But this is the most expensive. On the other hand — poured concrete may be cheap, by comparison, but it is very permanent and not very attractive.
Part of the fun of making a hillside garden is the gradual fitting of the constructional features to the landscape, so they must be flexible enough to accommodate changes as you progress. Moreover, apart from having a rough plan, it is almost impossible, without skilled advice, to visualise what the best layout will be, of both plants and materials, when you start.
Any excavation to provide level areas will provide useful soil for beds, and soil is often a rare commodity on hillsides. For paths, avoid gravel and bricks for the sloping paths as they are much too slippery, especially in winter. Asphalt gives a good grip, and so does ribbed concrete, or rough stone.
The real answer for connecting a hillside garden, however, is steps, and very beautiful layouts can be made, with curving steps, flanked by low retaining walls, topped by cavities for plants, and perhaps in other places the use of, filled with plants, can also be a special feature.
can also be built in the intermediate spaces between levels, waterfalls too, and on the various levels of terracing wide bays can be created here and there so breaking the general line.
If you like pergolas for, then these can be erected along the terracing.
Generally speaking the garden must be constructed from the bottom upwards, and not the reverse. If the ground slopes right to the roadway or boundary at the bottom, then in order to make the first terrace — which may be the lawn and patio — you will have to bank up the boundary line as you proceed with the excavated earth and then face it with wall, bricks or rocks. However, you should sink into its face a drainage pipe, otherwise water which drains down the hillside will be trapped behind and may eventually lead to problems.
Always keep an eye open for the best way of disposing of excavated soil without carting it far, and remember that one square yard of stone weighs about two hundredweights.
You can make some steepish grass banks if the soil is reasonably firm, turfed rather than sown, but they will need mowing with a hovering mower.
You need at least six inches of soil for grass and at least a foot of soil for plants. Adequate terracing will be needed round the house to allow access to the greenhouse, garden shed and for the moving of garden materials, and for the provision of seating and so on.
It is the terracing walks and the steps up and down which link the whole scheme. Rather than having large drops in stepping try to descend diagonally or in curves — and set plants in the steps or paving in some places. There is nothing nicer than the scent many carpeting plants throw up — and its a means of saving valuable space.
The siting of small specimen conifers andis particularly attractive in hillside gardens; they give that vital three dimensional effect. Trees, however, should generally be sited towards the top or to one side.
Ornamental features can be added as you progress and there are very many choices of materials. Cast concrete, slabs and stone laid in concrete, slabs laid on sand, broken slab paving, brick paths, asphalt and bitumen, blocks, bricks and dressed stone, screenblocks, drystones, cobbles, all have their merits.
Avoid using loose stones as these need a good deal of maintenance, especially when.
If you have grassed banks then do not construct quick changes in level, or steep humps or hollows, or mowing will cause scalping or missed parts.
The hillside and banks allow enormous scope for the establishment of mixed plantings of carpeting plants and low shrubs, with erect shrubs and small weeping trees here and there for accent and contrast.
Heathers, gorse, brooms, cistus, hypericums, dwarf conifers, Japanese maples and no end of other plants can be used. Remember that the plants can be just as attractive from below as above.
Rambler roses can look very effective pegged down on slopes, as can climbing roses tied to a low wooden trellis. Many other kinds of trailing and climbing plants lend themselves to being grown along the slope.
Hillside gardens should allow the maximum planting ofagainst fences and walls and on the house, and the free use of window-boxes and tubs and urns near the house can establish immediate interest from close range.
Generally put such features as tall walls, hedges, arches and pergolas towards the side of the slope-so as to allow a more or less complete view from top to bottom, broken only by the various compact features at each level.
Level terraces can, of course, be either paved or grassed, and provision should also be made for quite ambitious pools, fountains and waterfalls, and these are particularly enhanced on a hillside garden.are also especially appropriate — linking one level to another and bordering pathways.