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Multilevel Landscapes Take Advantage of Terrain

When you live in Northern Arizona with its spectacular mountain scenery, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up with a yard that slopes to at least some degree, making landscaping a bit more challenging.

Yet this is a great opportunity to use your creativity to craft a unique outdoor space existing in harmony with the environment that drew you here.

Adding stairs or meandering paths to the landscape makes your property more accessible for everyone who wants to use it, and building tiers into the landscape establishes flat surfaces for different kinds of vegetation.

Another principle of landscape architecture, layering, can heighten the effect and make your yard even more spectacular.

Leveling up your yard

When your property includes a steep grade it can take some work to make it more habitable for humans, but it’s worth it.

A flight of steps built with natural materials like stone or wood helps everyone navigate and appreciate the beauty of your yard without impacting the natural slope of your land. Under the right circumstances, a weaving trail can be a great alternative that shows off every part of your yard.

Using native plants and trees will help ensure your flora is hardy and easy to maintain, with root systems that reach deep enough into the soil to retain the soil and shape of the hillside, while rock gardens are another organic way to manage hillside vegetation.

Tiering your yard with the use of retaining walls can give you a more structured landscape and a great way to establish areas for vegetable gardens or flower beds, entertaining, play areas and other dimensions.

It also helps make a small yard seem larger by adding vertical space and creating an impressive scale.

Tiering also can be the basis of exciting features and amenities like lawns, waterfalls, pools or hot tubs, decks, patios and much more.

Layering your landscaping

This approach is gaining traction in the landscaping industry and can be especially effective on a slope. It plants the tallest and most visually impressive elements toward the back and side of the yard and de-escalates size and showiness as you move toward the front and center.

Deciding what should be the “front” end of your design can be more difficult if you’re looking at a downward slope behind your home, but in most cases layering gives a sloped yard texture, depth and structure.

Making two or three large ornamental or evergreen trees the anchor of your space and the main source of shade is usually the best start to making this sort of design work. Then it’s time to bring in some attractive shrubs, deciduous and/or evergreen, to step things down while spreading the heft of greenery and color throughout the space.

Finally, it’s time to look at ground cover in the form of plants, grasses and rocks to bring unity and completion.

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