Designing fpr downward slope planting beds

PattySmith300(6)April 15, 2012

Hi. My brother just put in three large terraced sets of planting beds interspersed by large existing boulders in his pretty steeply downward sloping all grass mountainous SW VA backyard. These beds are in full sun and will be viewed from the top down. I have never planned a garden from this vantage point. Deer are a consideration. Low maintenance as well. We would welcome any suggestions, thoughts, etc. before we start making mistakes.

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I forgot to mention that they love ornamental grasses. I can't picture how they would look from the top down. I'm having a hard time imagining this garden. And I'm supposed to be giving them help!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 10:11AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

My yard slopes away from the house and it took me years to figure out what to do.

First thing, if possible (and it may be too late in the game, since he's done the bones of the design before asking you), put a place to "be" at the bottom of the garden, even if it is just a bench, and way to get there. Besides the attraction of the destination, this gives the garden dimension and prevents you, and them, from seeing it as if it were a painting (especially not a painting lying on the ground). It is a space!

Second, all the normal horizontal rules apply for, say, controlling view corridors or creating privacy with upright plants or plant canopies. You are not ONLY looking down on this area (though you can get pretty fixated on that), but also across and through it.

So I guess this boils down to the fact that you needn't get bogged down by the slope. The space still has all its usual 3 dimensions. And if you create a way to walk through it, then you have all the usual opportunities to create pockets of close-up interest that, for example, rocks often provide. You can also do things that will look different from the bottom than from the top, so tucking a low plant under (behind) a tall one creates a totally different impact from below than from above.

All that said, many plants do look cool from above, in fact, in many cases it's their best angle. Grasses may be among those, but... not all of them.

Karin L

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 11:25AM
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You might post pictures that show the bed from top and bottom. Avoid close-ups.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:56PM
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