10 Lush Landscaping Ideas for a Hilly Backyard

Hillside properties can be particularly beautiful, highlighting a home’s architecture and creating great vistas. They can also, however, present a landscaping challenge. Maintenance can be difficult, and the potential for soil erosion is forever lurking. Here are 10 solid ideas for landscaping a sloping, or even a downright hilly, backyard.

  1. Break Out in Tiers

    Tiered Landscaping

    Creating several tiers on a sloped property can help manage erosion and give you the opportunity to layer different plants and landscaping elements for a cohesive design. Whether you use railroad ties, stone pavers, or concrete to form the tiers, they will make a dramatic impact on the overall look of your property.

    Related: 9 Clever Landscaping Hacks for Your Best-Ever Yard


  2. Build Some Stairs

    Landscape Stairs On Slope

    If you choose to let vegetation cover your sloping property in glorious abandon, impose a little order by building a set of stairs leading up to flatter ground. Whether you opt for a wooden staircase or concrete steps, this garden feature will blend into the landscape far better if it’s surrounded by plantings on either side.

    Related: 12 Perfect Plants for Lining Your Pathway


  3. Make a Natural Staircase

    Natural Stone Stairs

    Use a natural material like stone to create a stepped pathway through your sloping property. A stone stairway will complement surrounding plantings and help anchor your landscaping design.

    Related: 7 Thrifty Designs for a DIY Walkway


  4. Design a Waterfall

    Hillside Waterfall

    If you’re ambitious, use the height that your hilly backyard provides to your advantage, and build a sensational water feature. The soothing sound of water will bring a relaxing air to your outdoor space, turning it into your own private oasis.

    Related: 10 Outdoor Living Ideas to Steal from California


  5. Lay a Winding Path

    Sloped Walkway

    A winding or switchback path can make it much easier—and safer—to explore a sloped piece of property. A meandering pathway also provides an attractive focal point and draws the eye through the landscape.

    Related: 10 Inspiring Ideas for Your Side Yard


  6. Erect a Retaining Wall

    Retaining Wall For Sloped Yard

    You can make a sloping property more functional by cutting away a portion of a hill and installing a retaining wall to hold back the soil. This is a great opportunity to create a dedicated planting area behind and along the retaining wall, while reclaiming a portion of your yard for an expanse of grass on level ground. 

    Related: Edge Your Beds: 11 Easy Ideas for Landscape Borders


  7. Cultivate a Rock Garden

    Rock Garden On Slope

    Hillsides can pose a landscaping challenge for plants, which can suffer from the soil erosion or poor drainage typical of sloping properties. When you arrange rocks of varying shapes and sizes on your hillside, you create a stable base for  rock-loving plants like stonecrop, ornamental grasses, and creeping ground covers. A rock garden looks lush and satisfying to the eye, and reduces your maintenance load in the yard.

    Related: 25 Plants for Your Easiest Garden Ever


  8. Devise a Destination Fire Pit

    Hillside Fire Pit

    Building hardscapes into a sloping property is a common and rewarding landscaping practice. When a design culminates in an alluring destination like a fire pit, you’ll draw visitors through your yard and transform what might otherwise be neglected space into the place to be. 

    Related: No Money to Burn? 9 Fire Pits You Can Afford


  9. Install Veggie Beds

    Vegetable Garden On Slope

    You can take advantage of unused real estate on a slope that gets full sun by installing raised beds for vegetables. Deeper sections of the beds can be used for root vegetables that require more soil, and the shallower portions will be perfect for herbs and vining plants.

    Related: 13 Creative Designs for Easy DIY Planters


  10. Rely on Native Plants

    Plants For Slopes

    Festooning a hillside with plants that are native to your area can help make maintenance easier in a spot that would be difficult to mow and landscape. With native plants, you can be fairly certain that they’ll be successful without much help from you, and they will help reduce erosion by providing a network of roots to hold soil in place.

    Related: 25 Amazing Plants That Are Native to North America


  11. How to Cope with a Slope

    How to Cope with a Slope

    With the right plan, even a steeply sloped backyard can be useable and enjoyable.


  12. Don't Miss!


    With a pinch of effort and almost no upkeep, you can have the lush, beautiful garden of your dreams. The secret is to choose plant varieties that enjoy a little hardship. We’ve compiled the essential list of hardy flora, with tips for care and maintenance. Go now!