Yard-slope solution

Credit: Brand X Pictures/Gardening/Sandra Ivany

Site unseen, this is a difficult question to answer.

“Significant slope” is such a relative term. Measure the degree of slope precisely. Does the slope move away from or towards the house? Sloping away from the house is easier to tolerate emotionally than sloping towards the house and, of course, drainage is a huge issue.

Long-term maintenance is one of my first considerations. Perhaps some re-grading can be done and “benches” of flat areas with slopes between them can be created. Before you discard the idea of retaining walls entirely, consider that the area between them doesn’t have to be made entirely flat, but the less the slope is, the easier it will be to mow the lawn or pull weeds or prune.

A groundcover other than lawn on slopes can reduce maintenance – once it is established. Depending on the environment you have (full sun, etc.) choose a quick-growing one – Pachysandra and periwinkle are only a few. But be aware that for the few years it takes them to grow in, the bare areas between them must be kept weed free. A daunting task – especially on a slope.

Consider walls – sometimes the cost of creating them is far outweighed by the reduced long-term maintenance and the usable area regained.