Making Your Hill a Part of Your Home
Sitting at the top of a hill you can overlook the town, fields and even the ocean. If the property belongs to you though, it can be difficult to figure out what to do about the landscaping on the hill. Some hills are steeper than others and you may have little choice in what you can do with it. Others are more of a slope and allow you to walk along it, so long as you are careful not to trip so you don’t go rolling down it.
On my recent trip to another state I noticed several homes that were built along hills where the backyard was a sloping yard. Some people took great care of their areas while others did nothing about it, and it was left as dirt or yellowed grass. The climate will play a part in what you can do with the area you have, and it could also give you some great ideas if you know where to look and how to apply them.
Leave it Alone
Many people choose this option when living on a hill. It can be hard to maintain, and if it is full of grass it could be even more difficult to cut the grass. There is no harm in leaving it alone, so long as it is clean. You can always hire a service to clean it, and to keep it trimmed if there is grass growing on it. Sometimes the hills are so steep that little to nothing will grow on it, and other times the hill is dirt that can’t seem to grow anything. This could be because of rocks, the type of soil, the sun, or just because of the location to the sun. For those hills that fall into these categories it can be difficult to do anything with them safely, leaving your best option of leaving it alone.
Plant a Garden
Just because there is a hill for a yard doesn’t mean that you can’t grow anything on it. Some hills are a slight slope which is great for a garden if the sun hits it. It allows the plants you are growing in the garden to all get an equal amount of sun, allowing your crops to grow well. Certain root crops however may grow a little odd, since it is not a level surface. You could get either some long carrots or some short and stubby ones. Some plants and crops don’t grow well on hills though so be sure and plant those that will. You might need to experiment a little to see which will grow better. Potatoes are a great staple that can grow on and in the hills, so this is a great one to start with.
Even a steep hill can grow some plants so long as there is some sunlight that can hit them. If the soil is good, you will be surprised at what you can grow on your hill.
My favorite thing to plant on hills are flowers, especially wild flowers. Get a mixture of colors or if you know what colors they are going to be, you can create your own garden rainbow. (I remember visiting one house that had a slightly sloped hill that you had to drive around to get to the driveway. The owner had planted five different colored plants and laid them out to create patterns of circles and stars. It was a beautiful site and smelled great all the way up the driveway.)
If you are going to get creative with them, be mindful that it takes a lot of time and energy to get them to grow the way you want to. It looks fantastic in the end, and you will be the envy of the neighborhood. You can set the flowers that will grow and bloom yearly, or change them so that there is always something growing and blooming throughout the year.
It doesn’t matter what the climate is like, you can layer your hill to give it a creative look. For example, if you have stairs that run down the length of the hill, or at least a walkway, you can create different layers horizontally down the length of the hill. This allows you to create a pathway between the layers and gives you the opportunity to sculpt your hill to your needs. You can build your garden in this fashion or lay out your flowers. The layers are best if you lay them out horizontally, rather than vertically since it will be easier to walk through in this way. It’s also easier to lay out a sprinkler system in this fashion so that everything you are planting will be able to get some water.
For a steep hill, it is nice to have stairs you can walk down, add handrails if you have children or elderly so that they are safe. If you lay in concrete stairs you can add pathways to the sides so you can walk through the garden. Be mindful of what you plant though as the roots could break the pathways over time.
After visiting Arizona and seeing some of the houses, I came across some unique designs when it comes to yards that are on a hill. My grandparents especially have a neat design in their backyard, which slopes down a little hill and contains a chain-link fence at the bottom. At the top of the hill where it meets the house is their patio, with a fence that runs along it so you can only go down the hill from the two sides of the house. Each side has a fence with stairs leading down. As you get to the bottom and look at the hill you can see it layered with rock and decorated with cactus, old wagon wheels, water fountains, and creative themes from the Old West.
I saw one house that took their hill and dug it out, building a shed within the hill that they could store things in. Instead it was turned into a little play area, or a man cave for the owners. It was creative and if you didn’t know what you were looking at, you could easily miss it, as the door was made to look like the rock they blended around it.