Problems of a sloping yard can be solved by proper plantings

What a challenge a slope or bank is to the gardener. If you plant sod on a steep bank, you'll have to cut the grass; however, if you do nothing, rain and erosion will turn your yard into a muddy gully.

Even so, there is a way to hold up any bank beautifully.

The trick is to combine retaining walls and terraces with the proper plants for your own conditions: shade, sun, dry or wet grass, fertile or poor soil.

You can adapt the ideas to your own slope situation. You can carve a path to make the area accessible. You might use a ground cover of needlepoint ivy, cinquefoil, and Indian mock strawberries.

Azaleas and yellow day lilies help break up the flatness of ground covers. In the foreground, potted plants add color to a deck or patio. Containers can easily be switched when different colors are desired.

Even a narrow deck benefits from pot gardening. Most of the plants may be started from cuttings and rooted in small pots of sand and later transplanted into larger pots. Container plantings of pansies, pinks, and pelargoniums bring color to the patio and soften the vertical lines of any vine, such as jasmine.

A front entry, steps, walk, or deck can be brightened with potted plants that can bloom from spring until the first frost.

For dependable, long-lasting color that costs just a pittance, fill your pots with annuals. A packet of seeds is still the great American bargain. Also, you can buy flats of inexpensive bedding plants to achieve instant color.

Geraniums, marigolds, petunias, and zinnias come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. For the greatest impact, use only one or two colors in a pot. In shady spots rely on impatiens, coleus, wax begonias, and potted-up caladiums for interesting foliage and blooms.

For step areas, brighten up the stairs and even a garage wall with containers of color. Underdeck areas are frequently unsightly catchalls where nothing grows , but litter collects.

A camouflage of plantings and containers can supplement any ground plantings or hanging pots.

Mass your potted plants for greater impact and easier upkeep. A mulch of wood chips between containers keeps weeds down and provides dry footing for the pot tender.

Whatever you decide, container plantings will add color and line to an otherwise empty area that cannot provide enough soil for the usual plantings.

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