A steep hillside in Oregon is transformed into a children's garden

When a garden plot is part of a play area, learning about plants is bound to be fun. JoAnn and Richard Hoffman’s landscape in Eugene, Oregon, is exciting enough to tempt any young, curious mind. Broad paths allow plenty of room for activities, while raised planting areas are filled with easy-to-work soil. Built-in soaker hoses facilitate watering, and a multiactivity playhouse beckons when gardening tasks are finished.

Before the remodel, the site was too steep for play and too shady for anything but ivy. Landscape designer Jim Robinson removed an old tree that blocked the sun, then sculpted terraces into the hillside. The main terrace has plenty of room for vegetables and people alike. Much of it is covered with a 3- to 4-inch layer of ¼-inch crushed rock. A narrow terrace (just out of the photograph and to the right) is wide enough for a row of blueberry plants.

Each raised bed is framed with weathered basalt that matches the stone in adjacent retaining walls. The planting beds are amended with compost and tilled to a depth of about 1 foot, so annual vegetables and flowers grow quickly enough to keep the Hoffman kids engaged. 

Design and installation: Jim Robinson, Daichi Landscape, Eugene, OR (541/343-8575)

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