Sally J. Naish, Principal

Challenging Slopes

With the home set into a hillside, this property is steeply sloped front and back, making it difficult to maintain.  In the front yard the turf was removed and the slope partially terraced and stabilized with large rocks before planting with spreading shrubs and groundcovers.  In the back yard the crumbling brick steps gave onto a weedy, uninviting space.  The steps were rebuilt and a bluestone patio, partially enclosed by a seat wall, was added and surrounded with mixed low-care plantings.  Informal paths, one of bluestone pavers, the other of woodchips give access to the patio and the side yard, respectively.   The two retaining walls, one stone and one wood, were deteriorating and unsightly, but a limited budget precluded complete replacement.  We rebuilt the stone wall, increasing the distance between the two walls, and creating a gentler slope when back-filled.  It was planted with stoloniferous shrubs that would spread readily, holding the soil and hiding the rear wall from view.

Faced with the prospect of having to mow this steep slope on a regular basis, the client was seeking alternate approaches.
The turf was removed and the slope regraded, some soil being removed and used as back-fill in the back yard. Large rocks and spreading plants were used to stabilize the slope. Access to the lower part of the slope is now gained via an informal stone path.
The stone wall was rebuilt at a greater distance from the wood retaining wall. When back-filled, the slope between the two walls was gentler and could be planted more readily. The plants roots will hold the soil and their branches help to conceal the railroad ties.
Rudimentary steps to side yard made access hazardous.
Safe access is provided by these natural stone steps set beside a fieldstone retaining wall.

The steepness of the slope made mowing difficult and unsafe.

Front slope: too steep to mow safely

The turf was removed, the slope regraded and stabilized using large rocks and stoloniferous plants.

Front slope: Regraded and stabilized with rocks and plants.

Deteriorating brick landing and steps gave onto an uninviting space.

Back yard, view to east: Crumbling steps led nowhere.

The new bluestone steps and path help to define and draw you into the space, now planted with low-maintenance trees, shrubs and groundcovers.

Back steps rebuilt, bluestone path and easy-care plants added.

The space offered little reason to venture out and no defined means of access, if required.

Back yard, viewed to west, lacked definition and appeal.

The bluestone patio offers an inviting destination; the seat wall provides both a sense of enclosure and additional seating for larger gatherings.

Inviting bluestone patio with seat wall.

The lower stone retaining wall had collapsed and some of the railroad ties above were rotting away.

Stone and wood retaining walls in back were deteriorating.

The gentler grade, formed by relocating the stone wall, was planted for both appeal and stability.

Stone wall rebuilt; slope regraded and planted for both appeal and stability.

Steps to side yard were rudimentary and hazardous.

Hazardous access to side yard.

Fieldstone retaining wall and stone steps are rustic, but secure.

Stone retaining wall and steps make for easy access to side yard.

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