7 Ways to Design a Garden On Sloped Land

If you’ve been wondering how to turn your hilly property into the garden of your dreams, you’re in the right place! Many homeowners are daunted by the dreaded sloping lot – the one that comes with a 30-foot drop, but you can overcome this design challenge by implementing some of these creative solutions.

1. Put up a retaining wall

If you love alfresco dining, you’ll need a patio that’s level. That means reconfiguring the land, and building a retaining wall of stone, wood, metal or concrete blocks to help solve that problem. Just be sure to check what your city’s bylaws stipulate for wall height, and bring in a pro if your wall is higher than 18 inches, as you’ll need to backfill the area with gravel.

2. Build a deck to break things up

Why not install a boardwalk or path that winds its way through your trees or flowerbeds – or consider creating a few lower walls with flat terraces in between. Then you can have several separate dining areas.

3. Carve a tiered water feature into the side of a hill

Make your slope a design showstopper by giving it pride of place, and planting a garden around it. Waterfalls are an ideal way to use a slope to your advantage – who doesn’t love the sound of gurgling water? Don’t forget to bring in an electrician to install a water pump.

4. Step it up

Terraced steps can be gorgeous in a garden, inviting visitors to stop along the way and admire the view at different levels. You can do a zigzag design or a sweeping curve.

For added drama, build stairs around trees or shrubs. It’s easier if you build from the lowest point of your property up to the top.

5. Rock it

Boulders can be beautiful! They’ll also stabilize the land and provide great nooks and crannies in which to plant alpine varieties that will cascade over the rocks, or spiky plants similar in shape to your rocks. Other plants that love growing in crevices include creeping phlox, thyme and candytuft. Rock gardens are high-impact focal points that provide lots of bang for your buck.

6. Pick the right plants

Want a modern, clean look? Plant a bunch of a single species for instant punch. If you prefer a traditional garden, opt for plants with interesting foliage or similar colors. Choose varieties that differ in height, including ornamental grasses that will move in the wind and succulents that will provide nice ground cover. These plants are perfect for sloped spaces, because they love well-drained growing conditions.

7. Put out your planters

Changes in elevation are a terrific way to give your favorite potted plants somewhere to shine. Place them on steps or along retaining walls. Or, use large planters to divide different ‘garden rooms’, where you can create vignettes using sculptures, twig furniture or mirrors.

How have you solved your slope?


Waterfall 2: Photo Credit: SLHPhotography1990 Flickr via Compfight cc

Garden with red wall: Photo Credit: UGArdener Flickr via Compfight cc

Garden stairs: Photo Credit: 奇心王 Flickr via Compfight cc

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