There are many ways to hardscape a sloped yard. It all depends on the view you want and how functional you want the area to be. Here are some ideas for you.
Constructing a retaining wall is the most common way to hardscape a sloped area. You may also install a rail and stairs for safely maneuvering up and down the slope. Other ideas include winding and feature pathways, decks, fire pits, waterfalls and rock gardens for a gorgeous, functional landscape.
In this article, you’ll learn tips for hardscaping a slanted landscape. We’ll talk about the best greenery to plant there for a low-maintenance, sloped garden. Then, I’ll go over 12 different types of hardscapes you can install on the slope, and some amazing health benefits of one of them.
Personally, I’ve never lived on slanted land in my life. But I’ve visited many sloped areas here in Southern California which have some breathtaking panoramic views. I also have many friends who live in hilly areas that I’ve watched transform their slopes into slanted oases by adding hardscapes and low-maintenance softscapes. This is what I’ve learned through research and interviewing those people.
Tips for Hardscaping a Slanted Landscape
Some of us are lucky enough to have flat landscapes for gardening. Others, not so much. Many people live in rolling countryside, hilly towns or live in the city, but their homes are on or near slopes. The views can be quite spectacular. But they can be very frustrating landscaping challenges.
Low-Maintenance Is Key
Maintaining the sloped area is no easy task. And there’s always the threat of eroding soil lurking in the wind, threatening to flood your yard with dirt and rocks. So, if you do decide to plant greenery on the slope, make sure they are low-maintenance plants.
Choose hardy plants that don’t require a lot of nurturing so you can just install drip irrigation and not look back. You don’t want to find yourself climbing up the hill every day watering, weeding and tending to plants or harvesting crops.
12 Ways to Hardscape a Sloped Yard
From creating tiers to designing waterfalls, there are many things you can do to create an attractive sloped hardscape. Here are 12 awe-inspiring ideas for gorgeous and functional sloped outdoor spaces:
1. Build a Retaining Wall
This is the most common route builders and property owners take for dealing with sloping properties. A retaining wall will make your landscape more functional and safer. You have to cut back pieces of the hill, then you can install the wall. It will hold back the soil and prevent erosion and a landslide.
To add even more function to the hardscape, plant low-maintenance trees, shrubbery or plants along and behind the retaining wall. Don’t forget to add some color!
2. Install a Rail
Some local building departments have strict safety requirements when it comes to sloped land. They may require that you install railings for safety reasons. But even if your area doesn’t require it, railings help make walking up and down the hill safer. And some stylish rails exist on the market that will add more style to the area.
3. Construct Some Stairs
If you decide to plant softscapes on your slope, you need a safe way to get up there and tend to them. Even low-maintenance plants need a little boost in nurturing sometimes. Plus, what if the drip irrigation system gives out on you?
Build a set of natural stone, concrete or wooden stairs leading up to where the ground is leveled out. Then, plant some pretty flowers and vegetation around both sides of your outdoor staircase.
4. Plant Greenery on Steps
Not using your sloped land efficiently is a waste of good outdoor space. And the safest way to use it is to build steps on the slopes themselves so you can access your sloping garden. But they don’t have to be plain and ordinary. For a more naturalistic visual appeal, grow some pretty, green grass up the outdoor stairs.
5. Design a Winding Path
Also known as a switchback path, a winding path makes it safer and simpler to enjoy exploring your sloped land. It also creates an amazing view as an alluring focal point in your yard.
Design a switchback path by creating a zig-zag pattern that flows seamlessly up a mountainside, hillside or backyard slope. Instead of walking straight upward, like with stairs, construct them to switch back and forth from one slide of the slope to the other.
6. Build a Feature Path
Usually, homeowners can see their sloping areas from the house. So, give it some visual appeal by adding a stunning, snaking path. This will give you something gorgeous to look at while washing dishes or enjoying Netflix in your family room.
Create something that draws the eyes all the way to the top of the slope. This is an excellent way to entice you, your family and your visitors to explore what’s at the top.
7. Install a Deck
Looking for ways to make your sloped area more functional and enjoyable at the same time? Installing a deck could be the key. Construct it right over the downward slope for an amazing way to enjoy the panoramic views while entertaining guests.
For even more function, try installing your deck on pillars. This raises it up off the slope, giving you ample space for a kids’ play area or storage.
8. Construct a Fire Pit
Fire pits add to the allure of any landscape. They can create many types of moods, from romantic to cozy. But building it on a slope is even more alluring because it makes the hardscape an actual destination. Instead of looking at a neglected space, your visitors will be drawn to the view and want to make the trek up the hillside stairs to sit by the dimly lit fire pit at night.
9. Add Some Seating
What’s not to love about a decorative seating area installed on a slope? They give you a place to sit and chill out while enjoying the outdoors. And they make the perfect place to entertain guests, relax or watch the kids play.
Surround the bench or seats with a small patch of lawn and some raised garden beds. Now, you have another reason to hang out on the hillside admiring the view.
Waterfalls are one of my all-time favorite hardscapes. They bring an air of relaxation to any outdoor space thanks to the water and its soothing sounds. A waterfall will transform your sloped landscape into your own little private oasis.
Health Benefits of Waterfalls
Waterfalls actually have health benefits. This brings even more function to your yard. Here are just a few:
Reduces Depression and Stress
Waterfalls help release negative ions which leads to calmness. Somehow, this relieves stress and reduces depression.
Negative ions being released is also said to help purify the blood. This helps you to live healthily without worrying about contaminated blood in your system.
Improves Cells and Immune System
Releasing negative ions improves your body’s cell metabolism. This process also helps build a healthier immune system.
11. Veggie Beds
If your slope gets at least six hours of sunlight per day, installing raised beds is a terrific way to grow your own food. Because of the slope, some areas of the bed will be deeper than others. Plant root crops in the deeper sections because they need more soil to thrive. In the shallower areas, grow some vining plants and herbs.
12. Rock Garden
Personally, I’m afraid of heights. So, I would find it a bit difficult to climb stairs and enjoy most hardscapes on slopes unless I’m viewing them from afar. Plus, it just sounds like too much work to tend to living plants on hillsides, especially when being up high gives you anxiety.
If this is you, this landscaping challenge can be easily conquered by simply installing rocks on the slope. This will help with drainage and erosion issues while giving the slope an amazing look.
To make it pop, choose rocks with varying sizes, shapes and colors. Then, add greenery that doesn’t require maintenance, like creeping ground covers, ornamental grasses or stonecrop.
About THE AUTHOR
Kiesha Joseph is an avid gardener dedicated to simple urban gardening on a budget. She enjoys sharing her Zone 9B Inland Empire, California experiences, as well as inexpensive DIY landscaping techniques. She loves experimenting in the garden, even if the project seems to be a failure. According to her, she does not learn from her successes. She learns from her failures. And that’s why she is determined to keep experimenting.Read more about Kiesha Joseph