10 ѕtᴜппіпɡ Hillside Landscaping Ideas to Transform Your Yard

Update the look and function of your sloped yard with these hillside landscape ideas.

Layer Colors in Hillside Landscaping

Add interest to a sloping landscape with plants and hardscaping materials that layer colors throughout the hillside. Wide and deep, the steps offer 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 up the eye through the landscape. Here, a bright red stretch of astilbe beckons at the top of the path. Bright blooms of yellow sedum soften the geometric angles of the path and edging.

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

  • Are you using retaining walls to manage your hillside? Find out how to keep them in great shape.

Steep Hillside Landscaping Ideas

Retaining walls present a garden conundrum: How do you dress them up without them 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 sinuously curves around plantings to draw visitors toward the stairs. With no spot along the slope for a resting spot, a bench offers a breather before the rise of the stairs.

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

Switchback Path Landscaping Ideas

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 into 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 key. Here a black metal railing fades discreetly into the hillside landscaping.


Use Terraces in a Sloping Landscape

Broken up by a series of terraces, this gently sloping yard strikes the right notes. Sloped hillside landscapes, such as 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 offers perks up a long stretch of wall and provides a spot for a climbing vine. Trees can be used to enclose a yard. To one side of this yard, a cluster of trees shields the area from the neighbors, while the other side has a nearly unobstructed view of the expansive backyard.


Add Structure to a Hillside Landscape

Hardscape elements, such as stone terraces and steps, 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 on the hillside landscape. 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.

Landscaping on Hillside Paths

An interesting path can spice up a hillside landscape 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 contrasts.

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

Use Path as a Border

Plants edging a path work wonders to offer views and tame a sloping sideyard.

Add a path or two along planting beds on your slope; it’ll help make garden maintenance easier. Gravel and flagstones 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, and create a lovely backdrop for the plantings. Shrubs dress up the scene at the top of the slope, creating a great scene when viewed from inside the house.

Use Symmetry in Hillside Landscapes

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

Focal points in the form of garden ornaments 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 ears as a groundcover, boxwood at mid-point, and yew at the top of the stairs. A large tree shields a seating area at the top of the hill and adds a visual layer of interesting materials to the garden’s layout.


Abundant Hillside Landscape Ideas

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

Hardscape materials maintain consistency in your 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 beds can contain containers with annuals or specialty plants, which allows for more flexibility. Here, tidy understated bonsai plants stand in stark contrast to the azalea and rhododendron blooms.


Natural Landscaping on a Hillside

Create a park-like setting within a hillside landscape with tall shrubs and trees. Stairs up a slope can appear either man-made 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 offer contrast to each other throughout the seasons and offer the feel of a walk in the woods.