Landscaping a Steep Bank


Landscaping a steep bank is often a problem. Grass growing on it is difficult to mow; it is not very satisfactory either, since weeds are bound to grow, and the process of getting them out is both slithery and prickly. A good way of overcoming the problem, and at the same time of putting a waste piece of ground to valuable use, is to transform the bank into a series of little terraces, held up by little dry walls of stone with plenty of earth for plants in the crevices. They would not be any higher than a couple of feet. Each flat little terrace would form a kind of shelf for growing all kinds of small treasures, and the dry walls would accommodate many plants that love to get their roots into cool soil at the hack of stones. It would be an ideal place also for growing things such as lewisias and ramondas, which like to press their rosettes against a wall-face, so that no moisture may settle in their crowns.

landscaping a steep bank

It would be necessary of course, both for convenience and for appearance, to build a flight of steps down the center; or, if the bank is long enough, you could have three flights, one in the center and one at each end. These would be dry-walled against the bank at the sides, giving more space for plants; rough steps they would be, with thyme creeping over their treads. To finish off the whole, a narrow paved path should run all along the base; walking along it, you would look down on the first terrace, the second would be almost at eye level, and the third just above most people’s heads.


A few points which I am sure are very important. The dry walls must, be built on a slight slant, but probably everyone knows that. Then, it is best to set your plants as you build, because that allows you to spread out the roots comfortably, instead of cramming them into a tight fit afterwards. The terraces will give you plenty of opportunity of adding things later on. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, do use rounded stones (weathered if possible) and not those angular objects one so often sees in rock gardens, like old teeth, spiky and grinning. I know that for purposes of dry-walling the stones must have at least one fairly flat face, but that is not incompatible with nice rounded corners.

I fear that these suggestions will appeal only to those who live in a stone country, or who have a number of loose stones lying about, or who can afford to buy them.

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