Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTO! Curved terrace stairs tame a slope

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jan Johnsen

Today’s photos come from Jan Johnsen, who also contributed yesterday’s post. Jan is a garden designer from Mount Kisco, New York. Today she says, “I live in a part of the world where level land is hard to find. So, as a veteran professional designer, I have developed a whole arsenal of ways to tame steep slopes. Here is one solution I came up with: build a mortared stone wall to retain part of a hillside and install semicircular steps and sloped grass steps on the remaining slope.  The bluestone steps and landing lead the visitor out beyond the confines of the wall and the wide and curving grass treads provide a graceful descent. The tree on the right side of the photo is the ‘Ivory Silk’ Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8). It is a wonderful summer blooming tree. The flower border in front of the stone wall contains ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta X faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’, Zones 4-8) and ‘Honorine Jobert’ Japanese anemone (Anemone X hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, Zones 4-8), among other perennials. Boxwoods atop the wall by the steps act as a safety barrier.” Beautiful, Jan, thanks for sharing! You can learn more from Jan at her blog.

Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jan Johnsen


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  1. gottagarden 01/06/2011

    Gorgeous! The grass steps are quite a clever way to tame that slope. Haven't seen that before, but I really like it!

  2. user-7006895 01/06/2011

    Truly spectacular! Once again the Walker's Low really adds so much. The grass steps are lovely.

  3. Bonny_EscapesInc 01/06/2011

    Beautiful, what an amazing combination of stone work and plantings! I also design gardens in an area with very little level land, but in Canada and Jan's ideas for slopping lots are brilliant as well as beautiful!

  4. lepfan 01/06/2011

    Having the grass steps mirror the stone steps makes for a great transition. Very inviting. Good design erases all evidence of a problem area.

  5. arboretum 01/06/2011

    I don't know how the lawnmower person feels about the grass steps, but i find them soooo elegant. For me, they made me think of Japanese dry gardens (river beds w/o the river) as the grass steps felt like waves washing down the hillside.

  6. sheilaschultz 01/07/2011

    Once again, Jan, your designs for slopes are thoughtful and quite beautiful. Simple yet perfect.

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