Hillside Landscaping Tips and Tricks

rolling hill in backyard

The right landscaping can transform any yard into a peaceful oasis. However, landscaping on a hill presents its own set of challenges. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent ideas for landscape designing on a hill.

Disclaimer: If your landscape is dangerously steep, consider hiring a professional. Do not put yourself in unnecessary danger.


Before you undertake a hillside landscape project, be sure to survey the area well and create a plan. The plan will help you stick to your budget and serve as a guide.

Planting Grasses and Flower

If you want a natural and informal landscape look, plant groundcover and ornamental grasses along with wildflowers. These plants require minimal maintenance and provide color and interest throughout the season. Terra-cotta containers are perfect for low-maintenance plants on the slope.

Also take advantage of elements that already exist, such as low-maintenance shrubs, trees, rocks, and more. Using these elements as focal points adds interest and natural beauty.

Plant Species

The best plants for a hilly garden are ones that require little maintenance. Native plants and those that are known to help erosion control are your best bet. Choose a mixture of evergreen plants, perennials, and bulbs for year-round color.

Incorporating Terraces and Water Features

For a more formal look, you can incorporate terraced beds into your hillside. These beds can be made from stone or landscape timbers and will help display your plants and create an attractive hillside display.

Think about other added touches that could make your hilly landscape look beautiful. For instance, you could install a water feature that utilizes the law of gravity, Patterson suggests. Terraces, too, are perfect for adding vertical interest.

Building Stairs and Pathways

Also consider installing stairs, if your landscape allows for this, to help guests and family descend and ascend the hill with ease. Not only are stairs a functional element, but also they serve as a design interest. Planting flowers and trees around the stairway’s path will draw visitors’ eyes toward the centerpiece. If the hill is too steep for stairs, consider installing a winding pathway instead. If you install one to wind through your garden, it will also make tending to your plants easier.

Controlling Erosion

One of the biggest concerns when landscaping on a grade is controlling erosion. For steep hills, consider using erosion-control fabric that will help retain soil and protect plants.


Some people choose heavy mulch materials such as crushed or pea gravel when landscaping on a hill. This mulch will help protect plants, retain moisture, and will look aesthetically pleasing as well.

Installing Retaining Walls

There are a number of great landscaping additions that are perfect for use on the hillside landscape. One of the most beautiful, and most useful, is a retaining wall. Building a retaining wall into the landscape provides protection in addition to looking nice, an you have a wealth of choices when it comes to materials and supplies.