If your garden slopes, leveling it could allow you to make much greater use of your home's exterior space -- an area that you have, after all, paid for. A level garden opens up a wide range of opportunities for leisure and entertainment, as well as for planting and gardening. Rain water can wash nutrients away from a sloping garden and soil erosion limits your plant choice.
There are three ways to level the garden:
Build a retaining wall (stone or wood) of the appropriate height at the bottom of the slope and at the bottom of each step of a terraced garden. Treat wood to prevent it from rotting. The wall needs to be extremely strong to withstand the weight of the soil that presses against it--one cubic foot of wet soil can weigh as much as 100 pounds--so limit the height to about 2 foot, if possible. Higher walls need to be extremely strong and should be built so that they are leaning slightly toward the soil and on good, solid footing.
The most efficient way to level your garden is to use the soil from the top end of the slope to build up the lower end. Start by digging up the top soil and putting it aside. Then level out the garden or create the terraces by using the poorer soil and rubble. It is a good idea to hire a small digger for this task. When you have determined the level you want for your garden, knock in a series of pegs and run a line along the length on each side of the garden. Use a spirit level to ensure that you really are creating a level garden. Tread down the new surface then replace the top soil. You might need to bring in some more top soil because sloping gardens often have poor quality soil.
Make the most of your newly leveled or terraced garden by creating different spaces such as a patio for outdoor dining, a lawn, a play area for the kids, and borders for planting. A water feature is also a nice addition that would have been very difficult to achieve in your old sloping garden.
About the author: Karin has worked as a freelancer for over ten years, writing informatively about a wide range of subjects. She has a PhD and a background in education and research.