When it comes to our local geography, flat space is often at a premium in Victoria BC. Here are some considerations when it comes to tackling a hill.
The main problem is of course erosion. This is caused by either runoff, which can carve a channel as well as deposit unwanted materials very quickly into unwanted areas, or by water saturation of the soil causing mini mud slides.
Such mass movements of materials can seriously undermine structures above and below in addition to creating a mess of mud and gravel. We have seen everything from trees, shrubs, and other plants to fences and sheds leaning down a hill due to erosion. Needless to say, it is highly desirable to prevent your hill from eroding away. With the amounts of rain we get in Victoria, it doesn’t take long before serious erosion can occur. Once things start leaning it’s already too late and catastrophic failure is imminent.
Luckily there are a few landscaping solutions that are available depending on preference, budget, and circumstances. Lower cost solutions include strategically planting shrubs and bushes. As the roots spread, the plants will help to hold the slopes together reducing erosion. Additionally, choosing the right mix of plants will give your hill a lovely look. It also can be ecologically beneficial by offering food and shelter for local wildlife as long as appropriate native plants are selected. The main disadvantage is that it takes time for plants to take hold and results are never guaranteed especially since it can be difficult for every square ft of a hill to be consolidated by plants. If your hill is already eroding, this solution will likely not be enough.
For those with more budget available, retaining walls can be used. We wrote an article here about the various retaining walls available that can accomplish this. The benefit of a retaining wall is that when properly constructed, it will last far longer than just using plants, results are more or less guaranteed, and they are effective immediately as opposed to waiting months or years. Additionally, retaining walls open up new flat spaces which one can plant various small plants as well or use for other purposes. For some, retaining walls are also a more aesthetically pleasing landscape.
Terracing and Stairs
By installing stairs and building terraces into the hill, we can bring some order and stability into the landscape. We can also open up significant amounts of space that can be used for activities such as gardening and lounging. Terraces can be complemented by fencing to improve the safety of the feature as well as further introduce beautiful straight lines to the overall look and feature. Additionally, having different levels in one’s landscape brings a lot of interesting contrast and texture. Rather than a flat two dimensional landscape, a 3-D multi level landscape makes things far more interesting to look at and explore. The added height combined with the orderly lines can bring about a feeling of magnificence to your property.
When it comes to steep hills, deciding on the right landscape becomes a consideration of personal preference of budget. One should also take into consideration the maintenance aspect of the landscape feature as plants will entail some maintenance while retaining walls generally do not. In the end, you will want to choose whichever is best for your situation and achieves a balance of aesthetics, function, practicability, and cost.