The Day – Solutions to landscaping obstacles

Lush green, level courtyards are the dream of many homeowners for aesthetic reasons and because of the ease of mowing. However, the local terrain to the northeast is inherently rocky and sloping, littering the yards with obstacles that must either be removed or mower maneuvered around. Hiring someone to clear the yard can be expensive, while the job itself can be difficult, stressful, and in some cases, impossible. There are other options that may not make mowing easier but add beauty to the landscape.

The problem of steeply sloping areas in the garden may not be seen as an obstacle, but it can be difficult or even dangerous to mow. This mowing problem can be solved by planting ground cover to replace grass, beautify the slope and make it as maintenance free as possible. Ground cover plants, whether or not in bloom, offer easy-care beauty and help prevent erosion. T. Lacoma writes for “Ground covers thrive in harsh, sloping conditions, prevent erosion and require little water. You can plant them and largely forget about them when their roots spread and the ground cover does its job.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ground covers to choose from to cover the hillside. Juniper, for example, is a low evergreen shrub that comes in different varieties and is suitable as a ground cover. Says Charlie Nardozzi of, “The evergreen foliage breaks down the rain so there is less erosion and it blocks the light so less weeds germinate.” Although juniper is a reliable, easy-care ground cover, it does not produce flowers. However, there are other ground cover options that should be considered when seasonal blooms are desired.

A flowering ground cover is creeping phlox. Sarah Littleton, who writes for, advises, “As long as the site has full sun and good drainage, creeping phlox requires next to no maintenance.” Another blooming ground cover is evergreen (creeping myrtle). The Connecticut Botanical Society notes, “In this country it doesn’t seem to spread by seeds – just by the enlargement of its spot by its creeping stems.” Evergreen is a low maintenance plant but will require some pruning if used in high traffic areas as it is invasive and will crawl over sidewalks and paths when allowed.

Tree stumps are another obstacle that can be costly to remove professionally or require a lot of physical labor to remove manually. To avoid financial or physical pain, add the stump to the landscape. T. Lacoma says, “Stumps are excellent, natural stands for flower pots and can quickly become a topic of conversation without all the work.” Additionally, tree stumps provide a central base to surround with a small flower garden, rock garden, or even a fairy garden.

Alternatively, instead of using the stump as a decorative landscape feature, the stump can be camouflaged. One way to camouflage a stump is to plant a climbing rose that will grow over the stump. A contributor at writes, “Climbing roses (Rosa spp.) Can turn the stump into a beautiful and fragrant landscape feature if you add supports like a small trellis near the stump and train the roses to move over the stump to grow. ” and increase support. “Other climbing plants such as Morning Glory and Clematis can also be trained to grow over a stump.

Like a tree stump, even a large stone in the garden can be an obstacle to mowing and it can also be expensive to remove. A large rock can also become the central element of a small garden. Flowers can be planted around the rock or the rock can be used as the center of a rock garden. Creatively add stones of different sizes and colors to create a rock garden while making the large stone a dominant or central element. Rachel Brougham writes for, “Try mixing it up by creating a rock garden with large rocks, river cliffs, and small stones for a layered look.” A mixture of flowers and stones can keep the rock garden attractive, whether the flowers are in bloom or not. This solution creates an even larger area to mow, but adds beauty to the garden, requires less mowing time, and is an intentional garden feature rather than just a natural obstacle.

While some obstacles like rocks and tree stumps can be removed or slopes can be graded, there are more cost-effective ways to alter and beautify the landscape.

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