Landscaping ideas for a garden on a slope

Sloped yards create a wealth of problems for homeowners for a number of reasons. When covered with grass, mowing is a challenge as well as dangerous. If a garden exists on the slope, keeping mulch and nutrients in the soil becomes another challenge.

Erosion from rain run-off can create a messy pile of mulch at the bottom of the slope. Creating a plan to manage run-off and encourage some water to soak into your garden requires some thought and planning. Let's look at some landscaping ideas for a garden on a slope.

Big Rocks or Boulders

If you're faced with creating a garden on a relatively steep slope, consider placing large boulders spaced throughout the garden. Intersperse hardy plants between the boulders. The big rocks or boulders will help retain moisture for the plants and slow erosion of the hillside. You can add plenty of perennials to create a low maintenance garden as well as ground cover that will grow to drape over the boulders. Strategically placing the big rocks will allow you to mulch the garden to help keep moisture available to your plants.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are built into the slope to level the overall garden and bring the lowest levels up to grade. Installing a retaining wall requires using some kind of stone, brick or landscaping block to create a sturdy wall to hold the soil. Many retaining walls are mortared into place with concrete for added stability. By levelling the grade, your choices of plantings become much larger since water availability and drainage issues are no longer a problem.


Terraces involve the installation of multiple retaining walls at varying levels. These lovely additions to a home require a tremendous amount of work but offer a stunning garden environment to house your most treasured plants. Terraces are built with the same materials as retaining walls and resemble wide steps up the slope of a hill. The installation of terraces allows the gardener to place on a flat surface since any drainage problem caused by the slope will be resolved.

A Plain Slope Garden

Creating a plain garden without retaining walls or terraces is possible as long as the slope isn't too steep. Mix peat moss into the top 10 to 12 inches of soil to help with drainage. Choose ground cover plants to help hold the soil and mulch in place. Hardy ornamental grasses work well to hold soil in place and don't require much water. You'll want to limit the number of plants placed at the bottom of the slope since this area will receive the most water from run-off.

Instead of adding mulch to your sloped garden, consider using various sizes of rocks such as pea gravel and river rocks. This will limit the number of plants and also create a manicured, interesting slope garden. Remember that sloped gardens are prone to run-off, so water your plants lightly but frequently. Experiment with different types of plants to help with water retention and to maintain the planting medium on the slope.