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I have a small but steep backyard (20 ft deep, a gradual 4 or 5ft incline)where the base of the hill turns to gravel and leads under our deck and up against the back of our house. I assume this is for drainage but was not able to ask the original builder. We'd like to look into doing two things 1) making a small planting terrace in the backyard, and by doing so leveling out this tiny hill 2) changing out or reducing some of this terrible looking stone in the backyard

Where would be a good place to start collecting information? We don't have the money to spend on a landscape architect but don't want to cause flooding behind our house either.

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    Photographs of the area would be very helpful.. do you live in a high rainfall area?
    – Bamboo
    Mar 22 '14 at 13:40
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Permaculture sites in particular will have a lot of educational information on how to terrace and create "swales" on sloped sites. The trick to landscaping a slope is to fully utilize and store the water that falls during the year, while not allowing it to pool up where you don't want it to, or to dig erosion channels and cause issues in your new planting beds. This kind of work is very doable for the amateur landscaper, even if only working with hand tools, if the area is not too large.

YouTube videos on swaling and terracing planting areas.

If the slope you mentioned leads directly to your house foundation, then proper swaling is essential to slow the runoff water down, sink it into the soil where it belongs and control where any excess water goes.

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