Making the Most of a Sloping Mountain Lot

If you’re planning to build a home in the mountains of Western North Carolina, you may soon learn that most of the area’s lots for home construction are sloping, or steeply sloping. It’s a rare occasion (though it certainly does happen) that a lot doesn’t offer enough fall for a walk-out basement design, and most often the lots offers more than enough fall for such a structure, such that the question becomes: “will we need a sub-basement”?  Often, a home with a steeply sloping lot will face a mountain view, and the goals for the property center around optimizing the home’s exposure to the stunning layers of blue and green that enticed the homeowners to the area.  Though the prospect of building on such sloping terrain can seem daunting, especially if the clients’ experiences of building have largely been in areas of flat landscapes, our talented team of professionals have copious experience building in our mountainous region, and have experienced and remedied just about any type of terrain-related building issue one can imagine.

With the challenges of building on a sloping lot set aside, the question might become “but, what can we do with a sloping lot? What about a yard”? While many building homes in WNC are glad to be rid of a yard to mow, others want to be sure their children or grandchildren and pets have ample space to play and roam. With creative thinking and site planning, making the most of a steeply sloping mountain lot is an achievable goal! If you’re thinking of building in WNC or another mountainous area, below are some steps you can take to embrace and make the most of your sloping lot:


1.) Embrace (don’t fight) the property.

We know, it’s easy to say, and harder to put into action, but embracing the unique contours of your lot are the first step toward making the most of the property. Take a look around at not only your own lot, but those surrounding it. You fell in love with the lot, and very likely the view, for a reason. Consult with a professional to be sure the lot is a great fit for your goals for your home, but also for your land needs. If you’re hoping to have a pool or in-ground hot tub, water features, a garden, or a relatively flat yard, you’ll want to be sure and mention them to your professional team. They can guide you on whether the lot can adapt to your needs, and how expensive those adaptations might be.


2.) Conducting a Site Analysis

Before starting any landscaping project, it is essential to conduct a site analysis. By understanding the topography, soil composition, drainage patterns, and sunlight exposure, your construction team can develop a tailored plan that suits your specific terrain. Remember to share the overall vision for your home with your construction team to be sure they can consider all of your goals from the beginning. When you work with Buchanan Construction, our on-staff Design and Build Manager, Interior Designers, and Construction Managers work together from the start to analyze your site and goals. Then, we work closely with other professionals (like your engineer and landscape architect) to develop the collective plan for bringing your vision to fruition.


3.) Terracing

One of the most effective ways to address a sloping backyard is by creating terraced gardens. These multiple levels not only add visual interest but also provide functional spaces for various activities. We strategically arrange retaining walls and planters to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion while adding character to the landscape. Think of all the options with terracing! Raised bed gardening, multi-level playgrounds, and more.


4.) Water Features

Sloping landscapes allows for efficiently installing soothing water features like cascading waterfalls, small streams, and even decorative fountains. These additions can be exceptional focal points for your lots, and with proper planning ahead,  could even be tied into the design of other outdoor features like a pool.


5.) An Important Consideration: Plant Selections

A well-planned planting scheme can elevate the beauty of your sloping backyard, and help prevent drainage issues. We work with landscaping architects who carefully select a variety of plants that thrive in different elevation levels, considering their water and sunlight requirements. The use of native and drought-resistant species not only adds ecological benefits but also reduces maintenance efforts.


6.)  Illuminating the Landscape

If you’re working on a sloping lot, you may be hoping to make the most of every inch of usable space.   Proper outdoor lighting enhances the ambiance safety, and usage of your outdoor space.  Plan for strategically positioned lights to illuminate key features, paths, and seating areas, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space day and night.


7.) Creating Functional Outdoor Living Spaces

Our approach to transforming sloping backyards includes the creation of functional outdoor living spaces. From cozy seating areas with fire pits to outdoor kitchens and dining spaces, we’ll work with you to design areas that encourage outdoor living and entertainment.


8.) Incorporating Play Areas

If you have children or grandchildren,  incorporating play areas into the landscape design is a thoughtful addition. Keep in mind that you’ll likely want these areas to be close in location to your outdoor living areas (like outdoor dining our outdoor kitchen) so the adults can watch the children to ensure safety. Even on sloping or terrace property,  play structures, swings, or even a mini-adventure zone can blend seamlessly into the landscape.


Building a home in the mountains is an exciting experience, and designing the outdoor spaces for your home should be exciting too! Don’t be discouraged by a sloping lot’s limitations, and instead focus on the benefits it may offer for unique and creative solutions for your outdoor living goals. If you work with our team, keep in mind that we work alongside our clients as a partner, and it is our honor to offer our  expertise to help achieve your goals.


Interested in building a home in Asheville? Reach out to our team today!