Proper Landscaping Steep Slopes and Hillsides

May 1, 2023
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Landscaping on slopes can be a challenging task due to the steep angles and the need for erosion control. While it can be difficult to creatively hold earth in place on hillsides, there are many methods that can help maintain the slope’s stability while creating an aesthetically pleasing design that complements the surrounding landscape and home.

From retaining walls to terracing and planting techniques, the possibilities are endless. Every slope is unique, and the location, climate, and landscaping supplies available all play a role in determining the best approach for your project.

Whether you prefer a minimalist look or a more elaborate design, the right landscaping supplies and a bit of know-how can transform your steep slope into a stunning and functional outdoor space that will enhance your home’s value and curb appeal. 

Temporary vs. Permanent Solutions

Landscaping on a slope requires careful consideration of several factors, including erosion control, water management, and the choice of materials. There are two main methods for landscaping on a slope: hardscaping and deep-rooted ground cover plants with modified watering techniques.

When it comes to ground cover plants, special attention must be given to watering methods. Failure to properly water and maintain ground cover on a slope can lead to erosion and other issues.

In contrast, hardscaping offers a more permanent solution for erosion control on steep slopes or hillside landscapes. Terracing with landscaping stones or rocks, or building concrete block retaining walls, has been used for thousands of years to level out steep ground by cutting and filling methods of transferring the soil and holding it in place. Hardscaping offers both functional and aesthetic benefits, as it can provide a sturdy foundation for planting and create visually striking tiered landscapes.

Hardscapes on Slopes

Hardscaping is a great way to provide stability and structure to a sloped landscape. When it comes to hardscaping for landscaping on slopes, there are two primary types to consider: retaining walls and rock garden walls.

Retaining walls are a common method used to terrace a steep hillside. They are typically made from pre-fabricated concrete blocks that can be found at most home centers or garden outlets. While retaining walls are not always the most decorative option, they serve an essential purpose in keeping soil in place and preventing erosion. They can also be used to create level planting areas and outdoor living spaces on sloped terrain. Retaining walls are a practical and cost-effective solution for stabilizing steep slopes.

Rock garden walls are another option for hardscaping on slopes. These walls are constructed using natural using landscaping stones and rocks. They can create a natural-looking scene that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. While rock garden walls are generally constructed by professionals, it is possible for a DIY enthusiast to build a beautiful wall with some basic knowledge and the right tools. Rock garden walls provide both functional and decorative benefits and are a great way to add visual interest to a sloped landscape.

Ground Cover Plants

Proper watering is essential for maintaining a healthy and vibrant landscape on steep slopes and hillsides. However, watering on a slope or hillside can risk of erosion. When it comes to ground cover plants that hold soil in place, it is crucial to use proper watering methods to ensure that the water penetrates deeply into the soil and doesn’t simply run off.

One of the best solutions for watering on slopes and hillsides is a drip irrigation system. Drip systems are highly effective because they deliver water directly to the plants’ roots in a slow and steady stream, providing deep saturation and minimal runoff. 

In addition to being efficient, drip irrigation is also easy to install and maintain. The system can be designed to fit the specific needs of the landscape and adjusted as needed to ensure that the plants receive the appropriate amount of water. 

This should give you a good idea of the primary considerations when you’re challenged with landscaping a steep slope or yard on a hill. These are very basic ideas and it is important to consult with a local landscape supply company for suggestions as to the best options to meet your individual design needs.