Sumo Gardener

Comprehensive Guide On Hillside and Sloped Landscaping

A sloped terrain offers scenic vistas and many great features in a landscape. Despite these advantages, sloped landscaping  often presents many challenges.

That’s because sloped yards are usually more prone to drainage issues and soil erosion. Additionally, steep slopes can be difficult to access, making landscaping and maintenance more challenging.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your yard because it’s sloped. Here’s a comprehensive guide on hillside and sloped landscaping in your yard.


Hillside and Sloped Landscaping

Sloped landscaping design

Some of the most stunning landscaping projects are those on sloped yards. With the right landscaping design ideas, you can create a beautiful hillside yard where you’ll enjoy spending time.

Don’t know where to start with your home decor project or want to landscape your yard on a budget, take inspiration from Decor Home Ideas and create the space of your dreams.

1. Examine the site

The first step to sloped landscaping is evaluating the steepness of your slope. This is important since steep slopes usually experience massive erosion from stormwater runoff.

So, you should determine whether you have a slight, medium, or steep slope to know what type of terracing or retaining wall you should install.

For instance, if you have a slight slope, you can control erosion by adding rocks, mulch, and plants to anchor the soil.

On the other hand, you may need to install landscape fabric underneath mulch or topsoil for a medium grade for more stabilization. Steep hillsides need a sturdier retaining wall system or extensive terracing to control erosion.

Besides determining the slope grade, consider the drainage of your sloped yard. This is important since water runoff can pool at the bottom of the slope if there’s no proper drainage system.

Include a drainage system in your sloped landscaping design to prevent soil and walls from collapsing and reduce erosion.

2. Install a Retaining Wall

Once you’ve evaluated the slope angle, build retaining walls on your hillside to create terraces and hold soil in place. Consider building a retaining wall at the slope’s bottom and pack in the soil to create a level space. 

Alternatively, consider building several retaining walls, especially if the slope is too steep. Leave a few feet between the walls and fill them with soil to create a beautiful stepped appearance and control soil erosion.

Retaining walls can be built using different materials, including concrete blocks, timber sleepers, stones, and pavers.

However, the material you choose for your retaining walls will depend on drainage requirements, aesthetics, structural requirements, site conditions, and more.

You may also be required to submit the design of your retaining walls and obtain a permit from your municipality, especially if your walls go beyond a certain height.

3. Add Terraces and Staircases

Staircase in a sloped landspace

Consider adding staircases and terraces to your hillside property for improved accessibility. Well-placed and built terraces can also help improve your slope’s stability and reduce erosion significantly.

Your terraces need to be wide enough to allow you to add plants while ensuring maximum stability.

For added visual appeal, you can build your staircases and terraces using different materials, including natural stone, gravel, or concrete blocks.

Consider adding railings, balustrades, or handrails to your staircases to ensure safety and easy accessibility when maintaining your landscape.

To add a beautiful outdoor living area in your sloped yard, consider terracing an area adjacent to your home to create great level ground where you can add comfy and gorgeous seating, an outdoor kitchen, and a children’s play area.

This can be a perfect choice, especially if your hillside property has a scenic view, allowing you to add a serene spot where you and your guests and family can sit by a cozy bonfire while enjoying the scenic overlook.

4. Create Raised Beds

Raised beds on sloped yards help create functional level areas for planting. Rectangular-shaped retaining walls are usually ideal when creating raised beds on exceptionally sloped properties.

Raised garden beds add visual interest to your sloped yard, make it more functional, and improve drainage.

Depending on your aesthetic and structural requirements, you can make your terraced garden beds using dry stones, wood, bricks, or interlocking pavers. 

For instance, you can install a rock garden using a combination of different stone sizes to give your sloped yard a minimalist rustic look.

You can use a mix of granite or marble stones and pebbles to secure your flower beds. Great plants to add to your raised beds include flowers, vegetables, fruits, perennials, or a mix. 

Alternatively, consider adding plants with different blooming seasons to ensure you’ll always have some plants growing in your yard all year round.

5. Plant Drought-Resistant Plants and Trees

Sloped Landscaping Ideas

When it comes to choosing the right plants for your design, you should pick plants that do well in your climate. For instance, if you live in a region with low rainfall and high temperatures, go for drought-resistant trees or plants.

These plants can withstand the heat while thriving in the intense sun. Such drought-resistant plants include cacti, succulents, lavender, and aloe.

Slopes can often dry without rain, but the base can become quite boggy when it rains. It’s crucial to select plants well adapted to tolerate dry weather at the slope’s top, while deep rooting plants are ideal for preventing erosion at the slope’s base.

Additionally, a good mix of shrubs, trees, and ground cover will ensure that rainwater that hits the ground gets deflected, minimizing the risk of erosion.

6. Use Decorative Accents to Add Interest

Another great way to spruce up your hillside landscaping and make it even more interesting is by adding decorative accents.

Use gravel, pavers, or rocks to create pathways and accentuate borders. You can still use these materials in your flower beds for a unique, splendid look.

Utilize rocky outcroppings and sloped terrain to facilitate a natural water feature. This will not only make your terrain look and sound peaceful, but it will also provide valuable water resources for migrating butterflies and birds.

However, you should keep your design simple and avoid making the water pump system from becoming too complex.

Wrapping Up Our Hillside and Sloped Landscaping Guide

With the right sloped landscaping ideas, you can transform your sloped yard into an oasis of beauty. 

Following the landscaping tips above will help you create a beautiful and functional hillside yard, whether you want terraced garden beds or a water feature.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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