All Things Gardening forum: How to level the soil on a hilly area

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
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Jai_Ganesha
Mar 10, 2017 3:44 AM CST
Later this month I'm going to be starting the process of a big bed out front for my zinnias (which won't get planted until the end of next month or maybe even mid-May).

I live on a hilly area (thanks, Pennsylvania). I know there are several ways to level the ground as you're tilling it. I'm curious what other people do.

I'm open to suggestions of using only high-powered tools (rented, I don't want to buy one) or doing it by hand. I'm just not familiar with starting a brand new flower area in this kind of topography.

The current area is entirely covered by grass and weeds.
Keep going!
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Mar 10, 2017 8:24 AM CST
Really need a picture...
Some definitions of hilly are very different from other definitions.

At my previous garden, I was on a slope, and just gardened on the contour.... Wasn't nothing to it.

I'm doing a garden for someone ona steeper slope, and working with terraces... Strictly shovel work.
Really need to take a pic....

I was on an actual mountain when I was up in TN, and there were steeper slopes, and gentle ones... I found a gentle one.... Gardened on the contour....

The more space you have, the better you can pick and chose where to garden.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Mar 10, 2017 8:48 AM CST
Sorry, everything is covered pretty evenly in snow so a picture wouldn't even make sense.
Keep going!
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 10, 2017 10:15 AM CST
Why not leave this thread open for a while, come back with photos after the snow melts away and we can give you better suggestions at that time.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
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ZenMan
Mar 13, 2017 5:15 PM CST
Hi Jai,

When we lived in Maine we had that problem -- no level garden area, so we had to make some. The solution was stepwise terraces, using mini-retaining walls made from available felled trees. I had a chain saw and used it a lot.
Thumb of 2017-03-13/ZenMan/fa3987
By stacking the tree pieces in slanted stacks, gravity retaining walls were formed, with no parts needed other than the tree pieces and the earth behind them. The trees were onsite and in need of clearing, so the structure didn't cost any thing, other than some gasoline and sweat.

ZM
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 13, 2017 5:44 PM CST
I love gardening on hills. They add a whole new dimension to gardens.

Here are two gardens on hills - these hills are pretty extreme but if you have gently rolling property, don't level it, have fun with it.

My father in law's yard in San Francisco.
Thumb of 2017-03-13/DaisyI/48ebe0 Thumb of 2017-03-13/DaisyI/a6f702

Our old house in California.
Thumb of 2017-03-13/DaisyI/9ceebb

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Mar 13, 2017 9:36 PM CST
Thank you all. These are some really good ideas!
Keep going!
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Mar 14, 2017 3:32 AM CST
Just to get back to the basics, you really want to eliminate the grasses and weeds first. You will never love the new flowerbed if the grasses just return.

I had someone come in with a scraper and remove most of a ridge. You could have someone do that and pile the soil up and throw a tarp over it to smother the grasses and weeds for a year and then reuse it next year elsewhere.

Nurseries can deliver weed-free 50-50 topsoil compost mix.
You can set boards or logs to create tiers so there are flat planting areas where the hill is. Slope-planters throughout history have done that.

You could have the slope diminished and a retaining wall built.

Depending on the degree of slope, there are plants that can stabilize the slope with their roots. And some flowers can emerge above slope-stabalizing groundcovers.

More pictures, better advice. Smiling

Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Mar 14, 2017 3:42 AM CST
We are still covered in snow, unfortunately. And we're in the middle of a blizzard right now.

I have to be careful about exactly what I do because if it's too ugly I could be fined (it's the front yard).
Keep going!

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