Rain can literally wash away topsoil, exposing the roots of plants and causing them to die. More detailed information here.
Cut a series of terraces into a steep slope to break up the landscape into multiple level surfaces for planting or patio space. Build a retaining wall at the base of each terrace to support the terrace and prevent soil erosion.
Build a staircase on a hillside; you can cut out small terraces for steps or install landscape timber frames filled in with soil. Build small retaining walls along the sides of the staircase to prevent erosion, using anything from landscaping timbers to river rock to build the wall.
Remove grass and cover steep slopes with mulch and low-maintenance native plants or groundcover plants such as blue rug creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis “Wiltonii”) or sedum (Sedum spp.) Native plants rarely need watering intervention and the mulch restricts weed growth, so you’ll rarely have to navigate the steep slope to care for the plants. You can add a staircase to the slope to make it easy to access the plants when needed.
Creeks, Ponds and Waterfalls
Build a dry creek bed in a small furrow in the landscape, adding useful drainage to the area
and giving the landscape the appearance of a natural water feature. Line the ditch with landscape fabric, and cover the fabric with pea gravel, pebbles and river rock. Add larger stones, driftwood, ornamental grasses and other plants around the dry creek bed to contribute to the natural appearance.
Walkways and Pathways
Install a walkway in a natural valley in the landscape; excavate the area as needed to make the walking surface flat, then add flagstone or paving stones to form the walkway. Stack stones on either side of the pathway to form small retaining walls that prevent soil from eroding onto the path.
Mulch and Pebbles
Spread topsoil over uneven ground to make the ground level and even. You can then plant a flowerbed, plant grass seed or lay sod over the topsoil. Plant an area as desired, then add mulch around plants to make the surface appear smooth. The mulch fills in the dips of uneven ground to give the appearance of a level surface.
Add soil to bumpy, uneven ground to build a berm, a raised mound to serve as the focal point of the landscape. You can plant anything on a berm, from ornamental trees, to shrubs, flowers and groundcovers. Here are a few more ideas for landscapes.
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