Do you have a hilly or sloped backyard? If so, chances are you already know how challenging it can be trying to create a garden layout that will be successful. However, there are some pretty innovative and creative ideas you can implement to get the most out of your sloped yard and create the garden you’ve always dreamed of having. It’s not as simple as just tilling the earth and planting some seeds, though. It takes careful planning, measuring, and designing to cultivate a sloped yard into a beautiful botanical garden, but it can be accomplished using a variety of creative techniques.
Add a Retaining Wall
Adding a retaining wall to your sloped lot is one of the most popular ways to turn a frustrating hill into a beautiful flower or vegetable garden. You can use many different choices: bricks, concrete blocks, deconstructed concrete blocks, pavers, wood, stone, even metal. The best part of using smaller materials to build a wall, like bricks or pavers, is that you can plant in the nooks and crannies they create. If you’re making a retaining wall that’s over 18 inches, however, you will most likely have to use gravel to backfill it and then add a French drain. This helps to relieve pressure caused by water building up over time. Add two or three layers and fill them full of bright and colorful flowers, giving your garden a cheerful aesthetic.
Create a Rock Garden
Another creative way to utilize a sloped area is to build a rock garden. The biggest challenge of gardening on a slope is ensuring the plants take root before they quite literally get washed down the hillside. However, to get your plants to take root, they need water. Then, when you water them, you get lots of runoff that will wash your plants down the slope—it’s a classic catch 22.
If you don’t want to use any flat surfaces for planting (such as terraces or a retaining wall), adding rocks is one of the best ways to anchor the soil, so the plants take hold while eliminating damage from erosion and runoff. You can also add small rocks and boulders and let them fall where they may and then plant in between, creating a more natural aesthetic. Or, you can carefully place them in a design of your choosing, whatever you prefer.
Create Terraces, Stairs, and Walkways
This method creates plenty of flat surfaces for you to plant on and utilizes a walkway to make it easier to tend to your garden. Using shorter terraced steps with a shallow riser, you can create a pathway with many turns and zigzags that provide natural stopping points for anyone walking through your garden to stop and appreciate. If the contours and landscape of your backyard don’t allow for a zigzag path, then just create a straight path of steps that leads up to a flatter area. There’s even another variation on these methods: to use naturally flat stones to make steps. Using naturally cut stones gives a very natural aesthetic and helps anchor your plants into the soil.
Install Raised Garden Beds
One way to transform your hilly backyard landscape into a beautiful flower and vegetable garden is to install raised garden beds. These can be secured with steel rebar, which does an excellent job and won’t deteriorate like a wooden stake. Make sure before you choose your plants to take into account all the pertinent information. Check to see how much sun your intended garden will get during the day, find out what soil you’ll be working with, and do some research about what kind of plants thrive in the particular conditions you have to offer.
Add a Waterfall
You may think that a waterfall sounds too extravagant for a backyard garden, but there are virtually endless ways to accomplish this tastefully and in a way that looks natural. It’s not that expensive, either—just add a water pump and make sure there’s electricity nearby. The addition of a beautiful waterfall that utilizes the natural slope of your land will transform your backyard into your own private tranquil oasis.
Place Huge Boulders
This idea goes hand in hand with the rock garden, but it uses much larger boulders. You will need machinery to move them, but your garden will look amazing when it’s finished. Do some careful measuring, research, and design to ensure the boulders get placed in the best spots possible, so there are no issues with erosion or plants washing away. A great way to accomplish that is to put the larger boulders parallel to the top edge of your garden, forming pockets where water pools—this is perfect for plants that love lots of moisture. Or, you can flip it around and use smaller boulders placed perpendicular, which will increase the amount of drainage, making it ideal for plants that thrive in drier soil conditions.
Connect Two Different Levels with Stairways
This idea is a variation on terraced staircases. Instead of creating stairs with flat spaces in between, create two levels and then connect them with curving staircases. This allows you to showcase your most extraordinary plants and flowers right at the top where the stairs meet, which is where the eye naturally travels. For an extra pop of color, use stair building materials with natural crevices or spaces between and plant as many wildflowers or native plants as you can fit. Or, use creeping plants with good groundcover or succulents for a modern touch.
Build a Deck
You can also take it a step further by building a deck. Then, you can add a fireplace, a soaking tub, seating, a table, even a floating bench—the options are literally endless. Adding a stained wooden deck not only completely transforms your outdoor garden but also turns it into a space where you will want to spend every sunny day with friends, family, or even just sitting quietly and reading a book. This level of work requires a contractor, but the end result will be by far worth it.
Use Hedges to Create Borders
Another creative way to border your garden and help anchor the soil is by planting hedges like boxwood, which have strong roots. Another benefit of using shrubs or hedges is that they can be easily shaped or manicured in various ways to change the entire look and feel of your garden instantly. Many people choose this technique due to the clean, crisp lines it makes and the contemporary feel it adds to any outdoor living space.
Don’t Let Your Sloped Yard Go to Waste—Design a Garden!
You may be exasperated with the unique challenges of trying to landscape on a sloped yard, but with the right techniques, you can create a beautiful garden that provides curb appeal and a one-of-a-kind look and feel to your home. Add a retaining wall, make a rock garden, install a deck or some terraced steps to upgrade your hilly yard into a gorgeous botanical experience. Transform your outdoor living space into the spectacular garden you’ve always wanted.