Hillside Yards And Landscapes

Planting ideas, plans, designs, pictures, and solutions for problem yards

Landscaping on steep slopes and hillsides can be quite a challenge for most homeowners. Besides how appealing the yard or garden looks, errosion and water saturation issues with plants are generally the main concerns with most landscapes on steep grades.

While it's not an issue on all landscapes with extreme grades, drainage can be a problem if your house sits at the bottom of the slope rather than the top. It can also become a community problem if you have neighbors at the bottom of your yard.

Erosion control on slopes and hillsides is usually addressed in the same manner as nature would do. With plants and possibly rocks. And as well as creating usable space, water can also be slowed down by the use of terracing with retaining walls and decks.

Design Considerations

  • Watering and saturation - Growing plants on slopes and hilsides requires that the water be able to saturate down to the roots of the plants before it runs off. See Proper Hillside Watering Methods for tips for planting and growing plants on landscapes on grades and inclines.
  • Lawn areas - Consideration should be given to whether or not any lawn area is practical for your yard and landscape. Besides watering and saturation issues, mowing on a steep grade can be difficult and uncomfortable. The absolute max that we've been able to mow comfortably is around 30% grade. Anything more is uncomfortable and dangerous.
  • Planting and erosion control - While this goes hand in hand with the two topics mentioned above, there are some specific resources that go into great detail on the subject and are worth mentioning here.

Backyard On A Very Steep Grade

This is one of our own backyard designs that addresses an extreme slope and hillside landscape in a very short space. Generally, most folks don't have to have to deal with a steep grade like this. Still, the principles and ideas can be scaled to a smaller lot.