Turn a problem slope into a garden asset

by Connie Oswald Stofko

A slope or hill in your yard can pose a problem. What do you do with it? How you make it part of your landscape? See how these Western New York gardeners turned their trouble spots into assets.

hill with gardens in South Buffalo
The hill at the back of Paul Sabato’s backyard was a blank slate when he moved in to his South Buffalo home. He decided to build gardens on the hill. One problem was the rocks. “You put a shovel in the ground and you’d hit a rock,” Sabato said. “They were just buried.” He used the rocks to his advantage, arranging them to create terraces on the hill. See more views here. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
steps in Whittemore garden in Hamburg NY
The Hamburg landscape of Barb and Dave Whittemore wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t slope steeply. “There are seven steps to the top deck,” Dave pointed out. “We really have vistas with this. The elevations make a world of difference. That’s one thing I really enjoy.” Here we’re looking up the steps at the gardens on the top of the slope. ” Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
steps looking down at waterfall
At the bottom of the slope is a large waterfall circled by a train. See more views here of the Whittemores’ landscape. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
terraced front yard in Buffalo
Maria Hernandez of Buffalo had a sloped front lawn. It was hard to mow, so nobody wanted to do it. “Let’s just do plants,” Hernandez decided. “Let’s make this house a happy home.” They terraced the yard, holding the soil in place with pavers. “That solved our problem,” she said. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
screened room in backyard in West Seneca
What can you do if the hill slopes the wrong way? The West Seneca yard of Bernie Grosser and Jim Jankowski is at the top of a steep hill. If they had done nothing, they would be looking down directly into the neighbors’ yard, and that would have been uncomfortable for everyone. Fences, like the one to the left of the summer house, helped block the view. Check out in the next photo to see what else they did. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
oom on stilts built on hill in West Seneca
The front of the summer house is flush with the fence that we saw in the previous photo, and the back of the summer house juts out over the top of the hill, saving room in their small yard. They also use the slope as a dog run. See more views of this yard here.
wall of Medina sandstone in Amherst NY
A gentle slope adds appeal to the backyard of Darryl Moden and Chuck Hidy in Amherst. They take advantage of it with features including a Medina stone wall. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
pergola in Amherst NY
Steps lead up to a pergola that serves as a gateway to the top tier of the backyard. See more views here of Moden and Hidy’s backyard. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
Niagara escarpment behind garden
A slope can be enjoyed as a natural area. The home of Barbara and Anthony DiMino of Lockport is situated on the Niagara Escarpment. Their property ends at the top of a steep incline that shoots up three or four stories high at the back of the yard. See more views here of their yard. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

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