10 Hillside Landscaping Ideas That Will Improve Your Yard (2024)

Your hilly back or front yard may not be ideal for a game of touch football or an outdoor kitchen, but that doesn't mean it can't add beauty and color to your home. Update the look and function of your sloped yard with these hillside landscape ideas. With these tips and suggestions, you won't let a sloped garden go to waste.

7 Best Plants to Grow on a Sloped Landscape

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Layer Colors in Hillside Landscaping

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Add interest to a sloping landscape with plants and hardscaping materials that layer colors throughout the hillside. Wide and deep, the steps invite visitors for a leisurely stroll up the hill with plenty of shade-loving plants to view along the way, including sedum and lamb's ear.

Big brush strokes of color draw the eye up and through the landscape. Here, a bright red stretch of astilbe beckons at the top of the path. Bright yellow sedum blooms soften the path's geometric angles and edging.

A terra-cotta container is a hillside landscaping idea that offers a no-fuss way to integrate additional flowers and foliage at the base of the slope.

How to Build and Maintain a Landscape Retaining Wall

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Steep Hillside Landscaping Ideas

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Retaining walls present a garden conundrum: How do you dress them up without looking fussy? A series of simple metal trellis and flowering vines do the trick here.

Pretty plants and trees adorn the base of this steep incline. A grass path curves around plantings to draw visitors toward the stairs. With no spot along the slope for a resting place, a bench offers a pause before climbing the stairway.

Shrubs and trees such as a full moon maple are hillside landscaping ideas that maintain year-round visual interest. Restrained yet elegant plants, including hostas, roses, and coralbells, provide a cohesive visual style.

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Switchback Path Hillside Landscaping Ideas

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A switchback path offers a safe way to make it up and down a steep hillside approach to the lake. It also helps reduce erosion by creating informal terraces in the hillside landscape.

Ivy works as a vigorous, no-fuss groundcover, with a few shrubs here and there to up the vertical interest. You want to include low-maintenance plants because weeding and trimming can be dangerous on a steep slope. And if you're at a lake, you want to spend your time enjoying the water, not working in the yard.

Slope safety is critical. Here, a black metal railing fades discreetly into the hillside landscaping.

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Use Terraces in a Sloping Landscape

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Broken up by a series of terraces, this gently sloping yard strikes the right notes. Sloped hillside landscapes like this one can become boring when planted with just grass. Terraces offer plenty of gardener-friendly spots for flowers and shrubs.

For consistency, place similar shrubs on each terrace. Neither too unusual nor overdone, the plant selection here includes black-eyed Susans, daylilies, and other perennials.

Latticework perks up a long stretch of wall and provides a spot for a climbing vine. Trees can be used to enclose a yard. A cluster of trees shields the area from the neighbors to one side of this yard, while the other side has a nearly unobstructed view of the expansive backyard.

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Add Structure with Hillside Landscaping Ideas

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Hardscape elements, such as stone terraces and steps, are hillside landscaping ideas that offer a visual trick to rest the eye. Here, a small gate marks the end of the stairs. A pergola creates another visual interest point. Seating areas and fences can also break up a sloping landscape.

Plants and materials should complement each other in style and form. The stairs up the slope neatly transition into a series of terraced beds. Repeated groupings of plants, such as dusty miller, salvia, phlox, and impatiens, provide visual consistency. Rows of colorful blooms on each level build interest.

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Landscaping on Hillside Paths

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An interesting path is a hillside landscaping idea that can spice things up as much as plants can. The curve in the walkway adds grace to the garden. A flagstone path leading down the slope offers a different character and textural contrast.

In place of a fence or rail, mid-height shrubs fill the space on the narrow side of the path. Several hostas cascading over the stair-stepped path soften the wood edge. Shrubs and steadfast perennials, such as daylilies, are gathered at the hill's crown.

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Use a Path as a Border

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Plants edging a path work wonders, offering views and taming a sloping side yard.

Add a path or two along planting beds on your slope; it'll help make garden maintenance more manageable. Flagstone and gravel form a path that hugs the bottom of the hill.

Repeated groupings of shade-loving plants flank the sides of the walkway, creating a sense of intimacy. Tall trees define the border between one yard and another, creating a lovely backdrop for the plantings. Shrubs dress up the scene at the top of the slope, creating a great view from inside the house.

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Use Symmetry in Hillside Landscapes

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Using elements of balance and proportion is key to creating the classical style in a hillside landscape. Even small hills offer the chance to include exciting garden elements. At the top of this slope, a retaining wall divides steps from a seating area behind it.

Garden ornaments as focal points provide the eye with a place to rest. Symmetry is a key design tool. This garden relies on it for a tidy, classical look.

Increasing plant heights draw the eye from the base of the garden up the hill, with lamb's ear as a groundcover, boxwood at mid-point, and yew at the top of the stairs. A large tree shields a seating area and adds a visual design layer of materials to the garden's layout.

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Abundant Hillside Landscape Ideas

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Use a slope as a design advantage. Here, a slight rise next to stairs is cleverly carpeted with grass, leading to a bounty of plants.

Hardscape materials maintain consistency in this landscape. Using the same type of stone ties together the various walls.

Several smaller terraces break up the steep hill; installing small paths also avoids building a massive stretch of retaining wall.

Garden beds can be home to permanent plants, or containers with annuals or specialty plants can be used for more flexibility. Here, tidy, understated bonsai plants starkly contrast the azalea and rhododendron blooms.

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Natural Landscaping on a Hillside

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For a hillside landscaping idea, create a park-like setting with tall shrubs and trees. Stairs up a slope can appear manufactured or natural; the latter was the choice with these broad, worn stairs.

Curved metalwork edging echoes the slope of the hill as it discreetly separates the walkway from the grass. Easy-care shrubs add visually interesting elements to the landscape.

Here, a collection of shrubs clusters along one side of the walkway, eliminating the need for edging. A trimmed hedge at the top of the hill visually distances the home behind it from the pathway. A sturdy conifer and the more delicate foliage of Japanese maples contrast each other throughout the seasons and offer the feel of a walk in the woods.

10 Hillside Landscaping Ideas That Will Improve Your Yard (2024)


What is the best landscaping for a slope? ›

Create a Rock Garden

Rocks will act as anchors, holding the soil in place, preventing it from washing away and helping divert it from running straight down the slope. Additionally, the rocks can create pockets of soil which can be used to plant low-growing plants that will further help to hold the soil in place.

What is the best landscape material for a slope? ›

The easiest and least expensive option is to mulch your slope. For best results, use gorilla hair mulch, which is fibrous and has more traction. After laying landscaping fabric (to reduce weeds), put down jute netting to ensure the mulch stays put.

How do you landscape a hill to prevent erosion? ›

Use a series of terraces that act as plateaus, breaking up the slope. This prevents run-off from flowing directly down a hill. In addition to the terraces, you can plant ground cover to hold the soil together and contribute to improving nutrient content.

How do I create a beautiful landscape on a budget? ›

11 Cheap Backyard Landscaping Ideas
  1. Use Mulch Alternatives. ...
  2. Repurpose Old Tires. ...
  3. Go Vertical With Your Gardening. ...
  4. Add a Splash of Color. ...
  5. Plant a Functional Garden. ...
  6. Opt for Natural Perennial Ground Covers. ...
  7. Build an Outdoor Fire Pit. ...
  8. Plant a Tree.
Apr 16, 2024

How do you landscape a slope without a retaining wall? ›

A Natural Hillside Rock Garden

If you are not going to be terracing the hillside and creating flat areas for planting, adding large rocks and boulders is a good alternative way to anchor the soil while the plants take hold.

How do I change the slope of my yard? ›

There are several ways to level a yard. Depending on the extent of the damage, you can spot-fill holes, drop new fill dirt and flatten it with a board or tiller. There's really only one way to grade, though — deposit dirt at what will be the high end of a slope, then spread it to make the slope.

How to landscape a steep hillside? ›

A retaining wall helps stabilize the soil and define different areas. This is a good solution for a steep slope, and may entail cutting away a portion of the hillside and constructing a vertical wall to hold the soil. Materials can be rocks, bricks, cinder blocks, cement, railroad ties, or other lumber.

What is the best mulch for steep slopes? ›

Shredded bark is the best mulch for slopes, breaking down relatively slowly. As a bonus, some shredded ark mulches are byproducts of other industries and are considered environmentally friendly.

What is the best grass for hillside erosion control? ›

Naturally deep-rooted grasses that establish quickly, such as turf-type tall fescue grasses, are excellent choices for erosion-prone spots. Fast-germinating annual and perennial ryegrasses help stabilize slopes quickly and control erosion while deeper rooted grasses become established and take hold.

How do you landscape a slope to prevent erosion? ›

If you need information on how to stop erosion on a steep hill, the best solution is to install retaining walls or terracing, especially if the grade is more than 50 percent. These landscaping choices can add a whole new dimension to the front or back yard and offer new ways to showcase a rock garden.

What is best to plant on a slope? ›

Any plant helps, but those with deep, clumping roots (trees, shrubs, grasses) are especially effective, as are groundcovers, which find and fill empty spaces.

What is the best surface for a sloping garden path? ›

Granite paving

Granite is naturally slip-resistant, which makes it one of the safer materials for a patio or path, particularly a sloping one. Granite is very durable and resilient, meaning it is well suited to the rigours of being used regularly as a walkway.

Should I use landscape fabric on a slope? ›

Landscape fabric is the first layer of defense. The landscape fabric accomplishes two things: it stops water from being able to run down the bank and carry off a bunch of dirt and it will also help slow the growth of weeds which will be difficult to deal with on this steep bank if they get out of control.


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