Anyone who has ever undertaken a landscaping project knows that landscaping can present some unique challenges. Even if you are fortunate enough to pull off your design without a significant hitch, it can still be quite a task. Most aren’t so lucky, though. Almost any installation scheme will run up against at least a few problem areas that just won’t conform to the ideals of the landscape design plan. Fortunately, such problem spots can be overcome with just a bit of flexibility and creativity.
Soil erosion can be a significant problem on sloping land. The most practical means of curbing erosion is through terracing and building retaining walls. Retaining walls can be constructed from rockwork or by using railroad ties partially buried and spiked into the ground.
Drainage Problems are also a common source of distress for homeowners. Water can easily pool in low lying or flat areas. This is especially common in areas with very hydric soil (earth that retains water rather than allowing it to drain). If the areas of pooling are well away from any structures or other objects that might be subject to water damage, you might consider simply using wetland plants in those areas. If the location of the standing water is, itself, a problem, then a better option is to dig a swale (a shallow trough) to establish a channel for the water to drain into a more desirable location or even out into the street.
On the other end of the scale are areas that get little rainfall, or that have soil that doesn’t hold water well. In these areas, xeriphytic plants are usually the way to go. Xeriphytes are plants that need very little water and do well in dry areas. If there are only a few areas of the property that consistently dry out, rock gardening can be a viable solution, as well. Rock gardens can be designed to look either natural or artistic and can be used in conjunction with xeriphytic plants.
Rocky Terrain Problems
Rocky terrain provides many of the same issues as dry areas, with the added obstacle of being unable to dig into the earth for easy planting. Rock gardening works well and looks natural in such settings. Soil can be imported into sections of the rock garden to add xeriphytic plants to add color and life to the rock garden.
Highly wooded areas and areas blocked from the sun by structures can receive too little sunlight to support the majority of plants. However, there are a number of plants that thrive in shade. These should be used in any areas that present the problem of too much shade. Such areas can also be utilized and augmented with hardscaping. While you may have difficulty getting your plants to grow in the shade, a nice shady spot makes the ideal setting for benches, gazebos and other features. A little creativity can go a long way in addressing shade problems.