Ideas for Landscaping Backyards With Steep Slopes

Updated April 17, 2017

A steep-sloping backyard can be a challenge to any home gardener. Depending upon the direction, slopes could bring water into your yard, flooding lawns and garden beds, or send water away from gardens, causing a drought-like condition for your plants while the street absorbs the extra water. Landscaping this area can not only add to your home's value by providing some visual interest to your yard but can also give you some extra low-maintenance garden area.

Ground Cover

One of the easiest ways to landscape a steep slope is to plant a ground cover. Ground covers are plants that grow low to the ground and serve well to prevent erosion of soil in any area. Since ground covers come in many different varieties and are perennial in nature, it is simple to create a design ranging from a green space to flower garden. Ground covers like creeping myrtle, daylilies, ivy, spiraea, black-eyed Susan, coneflowers and phlox can be planted to give you a seasonlong splash of colour. Low-growing and spreading shrubs like one of the many varieties of juniper will continue the look year-round. Search for ground covers that thrive in your growing zone for best results. Allow space, as most ground covers spread with ease.


Create terraces to solve a sloping problem. Terraces are basically small flattened areas that are cut into a slope and usually walled off by using some kind of building material. Decorative block, rocks and landscaping timbers can all work well. These walled areas act as steps that move up the slope, thereby preventing water and soil from cascading into the bottom area. Each "step" can be planted using a variety of ground cover, perennials and cascading plants to create miniature gardens that will require little maintenance. Add mulch to each area to increase water retention.

Water Feature

Adding a water feature to any garden creates a focal point that draws people. The sound of cascading water works in harmony with birdsong and wind through the trees to create an atmosphere of calm, where visitors can stop to smell the flowers. Combining the terrace design and the mechanics of a waterfall, you can maximise your slope. The terrace provides pathways and gardens that can help absorb extra moisture, while the natural rocks placed strategically down the slope to break the incline can help to anchor any piping used for constant water recycling. A pond at the top of the slope and one at the bottom assist in recycling the water. Make sure the water keeps moving in each pond area to prevent algae or hatching of insects. Plant moisture-loving perennials near the waterway edge and other ground cover or plants along the terraced gardens. Include grassy areas that can be easily mowed where benches or seats can be placed near the waterfall. Adding solar lights as accents in places along the terraces allows safer walking and seating on cool summer evenings.

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About the Author

Based in Wisconsin, Danita Fausek’s 30-year working career includes jobs in administration, construction, remodeling, teaching quality processes and art classes, and event planning. With a degree in photography, she ran her own business for more than 15 years. In addition, Fausek has immersed herself in various hobbies including gardening, needlecraft and jewelry making. She brings all of this expertise to her writing.