Gardening: Remaking a Sloping Yard


Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Thomas Ormston.

Cary, NC – Spring planting season is almost to a close as the weather heats up in the Triangle. That said, it is an excellent time to take stock of your yard and current landscape and think about making some hardscape improvements.

Green with Envy

The Piedmont is known for its rolling hills. It is a rare yard indeed in Cary that is flat. Pair that with a tendency for our soil to be clay and prone to erosion and you have the perfect set-up for some retaining walls and wonderful ways of turning a negative into into a wonderfully positive amenity.

My neighbor, two doors down, did just that this past spring and the rest of us on the street are figuratively green with envy.

The Problem

My neighbor’s yard slopes downward on a hill that only a nanny goat could easily navigate.

In addition, the shady area of the back yard wasn’t growing grass very well, and that section of the yard was simply not being utilized for anything except retrieving basketballs, volleyballs and hockey pucks that rolled down the hill.

The Solution

A terraced back yard with retaining walls, a patio at the base and beautiful stairs descending towards a lovely back yard now complete with a trellis planted with climbing jasmine. A fountain was added for additional soothing sounds, a firepit to gather around in cooler weather and a gas grill for cooking outside.

Can you tell I have garden envy?

Call in the Pros

You can’t do this project yourself unless you are a stonemason by trade. The slope alone was over 10 feet which requires the knowledge, planning and work of a licensed landscape architect.

When you are working with hardscape, drainage is always an issue. Where will the water go, now that it can’t sink into soft earth that is now covered in stone, or concrete? Again, let the pros figure out the logistics.

The beauty of hiring this work out, you tell them the wish list including the “must-haves” vs the “wants” and let them put together the numbers. Then at money crunch time, you can take things out or “save them for later”.

Summer is a great time to dream and plan these spaces. Most likely you are already wishing you had that patio and can think of several occassions when just such a space would have been the perfect place for that graduation party, chili cook-off, or the casual night out with the neighbors for cocktails.


The Gardening Column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Rd. in Cary, NC.