Landscaping ideas for upsloped back yard

anjp(5a/5b)April 7, 2014

I'm looking for some design ideas for the backyard of our small lot with an upslope hill. It's our first spring in this house and it clearly needs some landscaping. I'm located in Ontario in zone 5a/5b.

As you can see from the pictures below we have a fairly aggressive upward slope and a "lawn" that looks pretty nasty right now. The pics are frontal from the deck, then from the right, left, and side profile.

I can work all the way up to a perpendicular line intersecting the large pine tree. The land behind that is just an empty field that grows all sorts of weeds and wildflowers. The sticks standing up in that field are staghorn sumac.

I will accept ANY & ALL ideas! My initial thoughts are to raise another railway tie retaining wall above the existing one, and have two terraced garden beds on the left side. Immediately next to them on the right I would build some steps for walking up and down. To the right of that, dig a semi-circle INTO the hill and line it with brick for a lazy fireplace/firepit. And line the top with some sort of bushes or shrubs. Perhaps liilacs for look and privacy? Hmm... perhaps this would be easier if I drew it.

Here's a sketch. Apologies for the lack of talent:

Like I said, just an initial thought. I am comfortable building retaining walls and providing appropriate drainage. I have a long way to go to make this back yard look like nature didn't just vomit it up :) Thanks

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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We are on a hillside also, but our home is at the top. Previous owners have built block wall and railroad tie terraces.

The tie terraces have 3 or 4 ties stacked horizontally, and secured with rebar. Higher terraces have railroad ties stacked vertically, again secured with rebar.

The block wall terraces are concreted in. Because our hill drains down, and not to the house, drainage is not a concern like it will be for you.

We have a variety of steps here. Some are poured concrete, others railroad ties, others are brick.

I like your plan! It's hard for a Southern California girl to recommend plants, but a previous owner planted cascading rosemary and it looks pretty falling over the retaining walls. Surely you have something similar in your zone to get that look?

I love the fire pit idea. That's on our list too!


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 2:45PM
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What about building a retaining wall out of pavers. You can do a 2 tier walls and plant trees and flowers in there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Long Island Landscaping Company

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 1:27PM
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Yeah definitely a retaining wall. I've just finished digging it out now. The picture is a little old but it's all dug out and now I'm just sourcing some materials to make the wall itself. I'll get some pea gravel and perf piping in there to help with water drainage to the sides.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 4:54PM
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I liked the terraced idea but I noticed something. Your first retaining wall is not retaining anything and the ground continues the slop that was present. Picture number for shows what I mean. I think it would be better if the new retaining wall becomes the only retaining wall. Stack the stones in front of it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 6:12PM
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