As bare land becomes more scarce steep gardens are becoming more common. Here are some ideas on how to successfully develop these sites.
To make use of as much of the site as possible terrace using small retaining walls or rocks (remember that any wall over 1 metre requires engineering advice). Use local rocks if possible as this will give a more natural effect.
To ensure plants do not dry out, plant them in hollows dug into the slope. These hollows will collect rainfall. A deep mulch around each plant will keep it moist and help prevent soil erosion.
It is often better to lay lawn turf, as lawn seed can be washed away. If necessary secure turf in position with pegs until established.
Chicken wire pegged across site can help to hold soil and mulch in place. Plants can be planted through it.
If you are anything like me, you want a beautiful garden with the least amount of effort. Well here is a way to achieve this and if you can make a sandwich you can do this sort of gardening!
Sandwich Gardening is a layering system for healthy gardens, which requires no digging and no weeding. It is an organic process which is neat and efficient, using materials found around your house or neighbourhood to create wonderful fertile soil.
All you need to build a Sandwich Garden is lots of newspaper and a variety of natural ingredients such as compost, grass clippings, leaves, sawdust, straw, seaweed, animal manure or anything else organic you can lay your hands on.
To start, you spread a thick layer of wet newspaper on the ground where you want to start a garden. It needs to be several sections thick, not just a few sheets of paper, and by wetting it this makes it easier to lay down, especially if there is a breeze. Make sure the newspaper overlaps each other so no light can reach the ground. If you are creating a garden over grass it is not necessary to spray weed killer over the area as the grass will die anyway. The bottom layer is always newspaper. By covering the ground with wet newspaper you eliminate the need to dig. This is because you have created the perfect environment which is dark and moist, for earthworms. They will begin to tunnel through the paper and organic material creating rich garden soil.
There is no correct formula for Sandwich Gardening, just cover the newspaper with a layer of straw, hay or compost and then another layer of different organic matter such as chopped leaves or composted animal manure. Keep alternating materials until you have a bed of the desired height. If you are just using annuals about 10cm high will do, perennials need at least 15-20cm high beds, shrubs need about 30cm high.
If you have used materials rich in nitrogen such as fresh grass clippings, it is a good idea to let the bed sit for at least two weeks, to allow materials to breakdown and release excess heat before you plant into it.
A Sandwich Garden offers plants ideal growing conditions. Moisture is retained so plants require watering less often. Drainage is not an issue as the beds are raised which allows for excellent drainage. The soil is loose and friable as it has not been compacted by people walking on it or vehicles driving over it. Because conditions are so ideal you can grow plants closer together, which is especially helpful if gardening in small spaces or you want an ultra-productive vegetable garden.
So go on start collecting that newspaper and get layering. Happy gardening.