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Residential Landscape Design: Dealing With Slopes | Washington DC

Apr 14, 2013 | Lawns, Services

Residential landscape design becomes more challenging when you have to deal with slopes. A skillful approach will help protect your home and your soil while creating a beautiful and functional outdoor environment.

If you love the view from your home on top of a hill, you also need to deal with the practical issues that come along with it. In addition to making the daily climb and tasks like mowing as easy as possible, you need to be extra careful about site stability and fire safety. In general, you want to limit the incline to a ratio of 3:1 or less, meaning up to a one foot rise in elevation over every three feet of distance. Drainage issues are also especially important for houses built near a slope.

Creating a series of short terraces is one of the best and most common techniques in this situation. They reduce erosion by breaking up a long slope into multiple steps that are less steep. That way more rain water soaks into the soil instead of washing away topsoil and killing your plants. If you want your terraces to blend in, use natural wood along with grass beds or other plants. For a more formal look, use materials like brick or stone.

To minimize your uphill walk, crisscrossing paths can be kept more level than straight ones. It’s also helpful to fill them in with firm materials that won’t spill out like loose gravel or pebbles. Flat areas and visual details can provide resting spots for your body and your eyes. Install a bench on a flat, paved area about one-third of the way up a lengthy slope or use a gate to call attention to the end of a flight of stairs.

Johnson’s Landscaping Service, Inc. is a family owned and operated business providing full service landscaping for Northwest DC and Montgomery County. Contact us to discuss solutions for slopes and other challenges.

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.

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