Ideas For Landscaping a Hill

by Jason

Hill and Back Yard

Hill and Back Yard

We are planning to put up a privacy fence on our lot. We have discovered that we own more land than we thought. What we have is a very rocky hill and a flat piece of land that has sage and other weeds on it. Any ideas of what I can do with this? Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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My Landscape is a hill!
by: Megan

My yard Is on a huge hill. We have a retaining wall so I can have a garden. But, the other back yard behind the retaining wall is covered in weeds and bushes. The only problem is we have a dog And she loves to run and tear up the yard. Is they're any cheap way to keep the dog from tearing up the yard as bad and keep the yard pretty? Please respond. Thank you :D

From Susan
Megan...does the land slope down away from your house or does it slope up towards your rear property line?

Landscaping a Hill
by: Susan

Hi Jason,

You have a few options, depending on your budget and your energy.
1. Add a retaining wall (most expensive option). If you place it towards the bottom of the slope and make it a couple of feet high, you can then fill in behind it to lessen the slope. You can then plant on top of the retaining wall/in front of the fence, which will soften the fence.

2. Forget about will never be happy. Add a sun loving groundcover, like Ajuga. You can add other plants too, but I would just keep it simple. If you like, along with the Ajuga, add tall ornamental grasses in front of the fence, such as Maiden Grass...or mix Maiden Grass and Zebra Grass.
3. Re-grade by adding more soil. If you extend the hill onto your flat lawn area, the slope will be lessened. This, however, will take away from your level lawn area.

Whatever you decide, add lots of topsoil because the earth there looks very rocky and poor.

I hope this was helpful.


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Sloped Front Yard

by Michelle
(Birmingham, AL.)

Planting On A Sloped Front Yard

We built our house and have done NOTHING in the way of landscaping. I'M READY!
The problem (for me) is that the front porch is about 50'long. Looking at the house, the bottom of the porch on the left end is about 2' off the ground; then the ground slopes, and by the time you get to the other end the bottom of the porch is prob 12' off the ground. Not sure what to plant across the front to look even.

Hi Michelle,
I understand. That can be an issue.

A mixed planting is best. I would use groups of taller shrubs at the taller end and lower ones at the shorter end (where the porch is 2' high). Plants to use would depend on your sun conditions.

1. Is the area sunny or shady?
2. Do you have a deer problem?
3. How much space is there, and is it broken up by steps? If so, how long is each side?

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Front Lawn Landscaping Slope

by Sharon
(PEI , Canada)

I'm in zone 4/5. I have a sloping front lawn approximately 250 wide and 200 deep, with a slant of 6 feet to the road. WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL VIEW to the NE and NW with houses in front to the north. I would like to add curb appeal to the yard but don`t know how or what. Can you help please?



Hi Sharon,
There are so many ways to design a sloping property. It all depends on how much of a change in elevation there is and for what distance, among other things.

You mentioned you have a 6 foot change in elevation, but it makes a big difference as to how long of a distance that is. Six feet over 20 feet is totally different that 6 feet over 100 feet.

I'd love to help you out, but I need some additional information.

1. How long is the distance of the slope?
2. Is the area sunny or shady?
3. Do you have a deer problem?
4. Would you like to block the houses to the north, or is this not important to you?
5. How wide is your property?

In addition, if you could possibly send some pictures (either in another Submission here, or get in touch with me through my Contact Page), that would be helpful.

You can also take a look at my page on landscaping slopes (unless you have already!).
Landscaping Steep Slopes


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Sloping Front Lawn Needs Landscaping

by Mrs. G.

I have a sloping (very as in hill but sodded) lawn and we need to do something with it as the sodding (the developers did) really isn't working - all the water runs to the bottom so the bottom 20 feet across the lawn(150ft) is nice and green. It lacks any curb apparel, and I need ideas.
Can you help?


If I had a picture or two, that would be helpful. Also...are you looking for some ideas or a design?


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Sloped Front Yard and Landscape Retaining Walls

by Chase

Sloped Front Yard And Retaining Walls

I have a foursquare/bungalow stucco house on a city lot in Richmond,VA. The house has a very high front porch across the entire front of the house set up about five to six feet above the foundation planting area.

The foundation presently is about seven feet wide and slopes away from the house downward at a pretty steep grade and ends at a smallish, flat front lawn. I'm having trouble with the foundation planting. How do I tie the house down and what plants should I be using to cover the slope?

I have thought about using two retaining walls to divide the slope into two levels. There is a central set of seven concrete steps up to the porch. One side of the steps gets full sun all morning & the other is sun/some shade. Any suggestions?


Hi Chase,
Before I can give you some ideas, I need to know the following.
1. What is the distance of the slope until it become flat?
2. From the porch area to the bottom of the slope, how much of a change in elevation would you say there is?
3. Do you have a deer problem?

Whether you use one or two landscape retaining walls will depend on this information. What types of plants to suggest will depend on the retaining walls and how deep the beds will be.

Let me know. You can post right back here by clicking Comments below.


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Sending photo
by: Chase buchan

Susan, I'm sending a photo this week. I should have done that to start with.

Retaining Walls and Plantings
by: Susan

Hi Chase,
I appreciate your feedback, but it's difficult for me to get a true picture of what's going on.

The way I am understanding it, is that there is a 4 feet wide bed from the porch edge outwards to the bottom of the steps. Then there is another 7 foot deep planting bed or slope?

If you can explain it further it would be helpful. If not, send me a photo or two via my Contact Page.


How high the slope?
by: Sandra Buchan

Hi Susan,
I don't know how to figure grades, But, the beds are seven feet wide (back to front), built up approximately 4.0 ft. from the ground in the back beside the porch, and then slope down to ground level from back to front. Each bed is about 10 ft long on each side of the front steps. the seven front steps are about 10 inches deep with a 6 inch rise. In the back of the beds there is approximately 4.0 to 4.5 ft of space from the planting area to the edge of the porch. No deer. Just a cat.
Thanks, Chase

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Steep Front Slope Landscaping

The front yard in the front of my house is painfully steep. We bought the house five years ago and have avoided doing any "major" landscaping to the front without seeking advice (obviously we don't know much about landscaping).

Currently, the steep front yard has a huge limestone placed say the least it is hideous and has weeds coming through. What we would like to do is remove the rock and landscape the slope using shrubs, trees, flowers, etc.

We don't really want to put in a retaining wall because we fear it would be too massive and not give the house an aesthetic curb appeal (not to mention we do not want to spend 30K on a wall). If anyone has any suggestions about plants, materials, or even a design we would more than appreciate the help. Thanks.

DJ, from Southwest Virginia

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What did you end up doing?
by: Tracey

I was reading about your problem because we have the exact same problem. What did you end up doing?
Tracey, Arkansas

response to comment
by: DJ

The area is full sun, and I will have a picture soon...thanks for responding to my post!

Steep Slope
by: Susan

You did not mention if your slope is sunny or shady.
If you could comment here and let us know that, I can make some suggestions. In addition, if you happen to have a picture, that would be helpful too.


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Large Hill in Backyard

by Racheak
(Peoria, IL)

Our house sits at the bottom of a major hill, we are in the process of trying to fix the erosion problem that has occurred over the years. Right now it is a clean slate (all dirt and mud), but we are looking for design ideas as inexpensive as possible to help with erosion and still look nice.

It is not a small slope it is a hill that is taller than our house. My husband is a heavy equipment operator and has made two flat areas in the hill (terraced it). We will need to put in proper drainage, retaining walls, and ground cover. Can anyone help with ideas?

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Landscaping a Sloped Back Yard

by Millie Jensen
(Beloit, Wisconsin)

What do I do with a section of my backyard that is sloped?

It isn't awful to mow, but an inconvenience when walking up, especially when carrying something. One of the big problems is, water drains down this slope.

Just as you walk through our privacy fence door, we put a sidewalk leading to our screened in porch. To the right of the sidewalk, I have landscaped with river rock, stepping stones, a fountain, and shaded perennials.

On the left side, we tried to grow grass, and with all the water draining, we could never get it to grow. So, I continued with the river rock, spireas, and some fountain grass.

Along the side of our screened porch and continuing all the way to our patio, we have natural stones(big ones!)that contain tons of beautiful ground cover. I did not put this in;it was there when we bought our house 2 years ago.

I absolutely love this view. I just would like to know what I can do with the area that is sloped. It isn't a steep slope by any means. I would like to "combine" all of it together. Our back yard is of good size.

I would love for this area to be basically a overall "focal" point. If you have any ideas or suggestions, I would GREATLY appreciate them!! Thank you so much.

Millie Jensen

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Sloped Back Yards
by: Susan

Hi Millie,
Slopes take a little bit more ingenuity than level areas, but a creative design can still be achieved.

There are a few things I don't know from your information, such as how large the sloped area is, if it is shady or sunny, and actually how it relates to the other areas.

That being said, there are a few general things you might consider.

Since you already have river rock and boulders in the other areas, you might consider repeating these elements. Don't overdo it. If you have quite a few, perhaps just one beautiful rock might help to integrate the areas.

You could also consider a low, natural stone, retaining wall. Can you add some lawn on the slope to break up all the plantings? I would also repeat some of the plants you have already used for a cohesive design. A rock garden?

Perhaps add some groundcover for ease of maintenance in some places. If you level out a small area, would that create a nice sitting area from which to view the fountain? How about a perennial garden?

As you can see, there are lots of options. You mentioned you have an area to the left of the walk which is wet and you have therefore planted there. If that works for you, fine. If it continues to be wet, you might consider adding some drainage pipe to take the water away.


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House is Down Hill

by Charlotte Berry
(Fairfield, Texas)

Our home sits at the bottom of a road going down hill. The problem is keeping the water from washing away soil and running to my front door.

We are considering moving the metal edging but not sure where to go from here to reroute the drainage. I'm open to making larger, curved beds in front if that will help.

Charlotte Berry

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Downhill Houses
by: Diana

I read the response the landscaper gave and I have to say that I tried that suggestion without anybody telling it first and it hasn't worked so well for a couple of reasons.

1) Dirt and mulch is washed away every time it rains. In our case our sidewalk leading up to our house floods because the mulch and dirt collects at the base of the porch steps. And my husband and I can't figure out a good solution for a better sidewalk.

2) No matter what you plant, the rains washes away the nutrients in the soil you put down. In our case we also have the problem of either too much shade or sun because of the trees near the house and so figuring out what to plant is difficult.

I'm getting ready to pull everything I've done out and let it go to just grass.

Landscaping Drainage Near House
by: Susan

Those that have their homes set up a little higher than the surrounding land always have it a bit easier than those in your situation.

However, the problem can definitely be solved!

The most important thing to understand is that the land at your house must be pitched away from the house. The elevation of the grade at your house has to be higher than the land around it.

In some situations where this is almost impossible, perforated drainage pipe can be placed adjacent to the house and lead the water away. This however would not be my first choice.

In your situation, there are a few options.

The first would be to create a swale. Grade the land away from your house for a minimum distance of five feet at 1/4" per foot. That means that the elevations five feet out should be 1 1/4" lower than the elevations at the house.

The land coming from the street is already pitched towards this area. As it meets the area of five feet out from your house, you will create a channel (swale) in the lawn (almost like a gentle stream) which should be sloped sideways to lead the water away. The swale should also be pitched at 1/4" per foot.

Another option would work if you have a planting bed near the house. Pitch the land similar to the above "swale" option. However, install a perforated pipe which would lead the water away.
The pipe should be wrapped in filter fabric to keep the hole in the pipe clear. Loose, decorative stone would be placed on top.

It is not the norm to create a swale in planted areas, as the water does not flow properly and mulch is just washed away.

I hope this helps. These are general suggestions. Your own land topography will determine the best solutions.


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Please help a sloped front yard.

by Dawn
(Maryland, USA)

Planting On A Slope | Hillside Plantings


I have a sloped front yard that we have not done anything with since we moved in with the exception of cleaning up the stone retaining wall. In my opinion the slope is an eyesore and a hassle to mow.

At first I wanted to put in terraces but have realized that this is not in our budget. So now I am planning on mulching and planting on it. I live in zone 7 in Maryland and the slope gets full sun. I am wondering what plants should I use (I'm hoping to use very hardy plants) and how to plant them (in groups or rows, etc.). Please help!!!

Thanks so much!


Hi Dawn,
Planting on a slope can be a challenge!

I would do a mix of groundcover, perennials and some evergreen shrubs. I would even add an ornamental tree (which will provide some shade too), such as a Flowering Dogwood.

Consider using Ajuga as a groundcover, which works well on hillside plantings. It's a bit aggressive (which is good in your case!), and it will take full sun. There are many varieties...some with bronze foliage, 'Bronze Beauty', and some with purple leaves.

For perennials, there are quite a few. One of my favorites is Nepeta 'Walker's Low'. It gets purple flowers and has quite a long season of bloom. Loves the sun. Also...Lavender. Tumbling Roses would be great. You could use Carpet Roses or one called The Fairy. Day Lilys would be nice, as would Coreopsis Moonbeam (pale yellow flowers), a Butterfly Bush, Salvia, and Lamb's Ear.

You can really use most any perennials for the sun when planting on a slope.

Add masses of Juniper, such as Blue Rug or Procumbens.

Regarding the planting design, plant in groups of a minimum 3 of a kind...5 to 7 would be better. No straight lines. Vary the colors and textures.
Repeat the same group a few times here and there.

Take a look at this page which might be helpful. Ignore the Honeysuckle and the Hydrangea in the list, as they like some shade. But do look at the's a slope.


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Plant Color Hardiness
by: Susan

I think the lavender Phlox will be fine. Why don't you plant it in groups here and there above the wall? In that way, you will still see the wall and if you want to add something different (additional plants) later you can. I'm not sure about yellow being more hardy...I'm basically not a yellow person and pinks and purples always do fine. (Except for the Moonbeam which is a pale yellow.)

I have used Burgundy Glow Ajuga and it is a good one, but I am not familiar with Dixie Chips.

Good luck, thanks for letting me know that I was helpful and please send me pictures!


by: Dawn


You read my mind with the plants to hang over the wall. I was thinking of using creeping phlox (unless you have a better suggestion) for that purpose. I like that it is semi-evergreen. Which leads me into my first question. I read somewhere that yellow and pink flowers are more hardy that blue and white ones, is that true? I ask because I wanted to get lavender phlox and I'm wondering if it will be as hardy as the pink.

Also, I am taking your wonderful advice and getting ajuga as a ground cover. I have done some research and I have found that I like the 'burgundy glow' and the 'dixie chip' the best. Do you know if one is more hardy or maybe easier or faster to grow than the other?

Thank you so much for all the great advice. I am taking plenty of it by planting the lavender, junipers, the yellow 'moonbeam' flowers that you mentioned and some of the other plants (I forget thier names). You have been so helpful!


Plants For a Slope
by: Susan

Hi Dawn,
I am glad I was able to give you some ideas. Yes, if you have more questions, just add them in the Comments section (like you just did) to this string.

One other comment is that you might consider using some plants to drape over your stone wall.


Thanks so much!
by: Dawn

Wow! you have given me a lot to think about! I love your ideas. I especially love the plants with purple in them (my favorite color) and the long bloom time. I'm sure I will have questions as I go. I hope it is alright if I come back. Thanks again.


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Backyard Slope

by Martha
(Moreno Valley ,CA)

I live in a house that has a slope on the back , so I would like to know what I can plant up there. I love color, so I would like to make it look very nice.


Hi Martha,
I get a lot of questions like this. Take a look at my response here for some ideas.


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Planting Slopes

by Rebecca

What types of plants are best for shady slopes, if you want ground cover?

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Groundcover For Shady Slopes
by: Susan

Pachysandra, Ivy, Vinca (Myrtle) and Ajuga will all work very well on shady slopes. They are all evergreen.

Ajuga at times can be an aggressive plant. For slopes, this might be a good thing, as you will get fast coverage! Ajuga comes in many different varieties. For example, Bronze Beauty has bronze-like leaves. Other varieties have large leaves, purple foliage, or are variegated. All plants have purple spiked flowers.

Pachysandra produces white flowers in the spring. In addition, it is deer quite deer resistant.

Ivy is a quick grower, and I believe rather aggressive in North Carolina. I know in Virginia it is, and you are further south.

I love Vinca, with its lovely little purple flowers and delicate leaves. This one grows more slowly.

Lily of the Valley and Sweet Woodruff are perennial ground covers. They will disappear after they are finished in the spring. However, they are lovely and you might consider mixing some in.

Consider using many of these suggestions to make a tapestry of plants for a very interesting look.

Hope this helped...

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Landscaping Slopes

by Helen

Landscape For A Sunny Slope

Landscape For A Sunny Slope

Here's my question:

I would like to get design ideas to re-do a sloped triangular area next to my driveway. It is about 34' long and 10' high, with a southern exposure. I would like to use two types of shrubs [Barberry and another evergreen) to tie in with the foundation plantings at the front of the house and an ornamental grass variety. I usually keep annuals or spring bulbs planted in the tip near the street.

The problem is that I'm not sure whether to plant in straight lines, group the same type of plants together in three large areas, or mix them all up. I live in western PA so winter interest is a concern - when cutting back the grasses, there will be bare spots. There are some open areas now where some shrubs have died.

Ironically, the ones that have thrived are threatening to grow over the sidewalk or driveway. Please help me to do it right this time!

I've attached a picture.

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Plants for Sun
by: Helen


Thank you so much for the suggestions. You really seem to have an understanding of the problem. I haven't been able to get any advice close to yours from my local nurseries!

Your observation of the azalea is accurate & its days are numbered.

I am really impressed with this site and your design advice.

Plants for Steep Slopes
by: Susan

Hi Helen,
Plant in groups and stagger the plants as you would find them in nature.
In addition, you might consider the following:
Looking at your house from the street, place three Barberry up towards
your porch at the left, so they go across the porch, partly. Starting at
the left, stagger them.

As you walk up the walk from the street, right
past the corner planting, do the same thing...three Barberry staggered.
I can't quite see the exact space, size-wise, so you might need more
than three.

Along the slope, plant a mass of Procumbens Juniper. They
get to be a maximum 18" tall and Juniper look nice on a slope. The color
and texture will look great with the Barberry.

Now all that is left is
the area along the walk between the two groups of Barberry. You can
place Fountain Grass here. Make sure you get the tall variety. It will
get to be about two feet or more wide and about 15" to 18" tall. The
shorter ones look skimpy in my opinion.

You might also consider Nepeta
'Walkers Low' in place (or with) the grasses. It has a gray green
foliage color and blooms with pale purple flowers throughout the season.
It will get to be about 30" wide and about 12" tall at the most and it
is very hardy. This also is a perennial.

You can leave the perennial
foliage throughout the winter and cut it back in the spring so that the
bed does not look bare. I feel you will have enough evergreens and this
would be fine.

I hope this was helpful. Oh, one more thing. I think I see an Azalea
along your foundation. Perhaps you could transplant it elsewhere, and
add another Barberry in its place so all looks unified.


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Landscape Design Ideas For A Slope Near a Pool

We have a swimming pool that's fairly flat on one side only. The other 3 sides gently slope downward to the fence about 6 feet. At the present time we have gravel on the slope but this isn't practical to walk on. Plus it gets on the feet and then in the pool liner.

I wanted river pebbles on the slope to match my other landscaping but my husband thinks the pebbles would not stay in place. Is there an alternative product that I could place on the gravel. We have 6 feet of concrete around the pool.

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Ideas For a Slope
by: Susan

You didn't mention what the distance was from the edge of the pool coping to the fence, so I don't know if it is a large area or just a short distance. Regarding your husband's concern of the river rock not staying in place, that would depend on how steep the slope is. If it is a reasonable slope of about 4:1 or less, I think it should be fine. A 4:1 slope means that, for example, the following. If you have a distance of 4 feet, the difference in elevation would be 1 foot from edge to edge.

Would you consider as an alternative a low maintenance ground cover? Ajuga is a bit aggressive, takes the sun or shade, and is attractive. If you planted it on the sloped areas and added a thick covering of mulch, you should not have much of a weed problem. You can also put down some weed preventatives. Back to the stone, I do like river rock.


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Sloped Yard

We want to help our mother, 73 years old, have a very low maintenance yard but she has a big slope in the back yard. What ideas would you have?

It all depends on the amount of area involved and how sloped it is. Another factor is whether the area is sunny, shady or a little of both.

Groundcover or very low plants, such as Juniper, often are an easy solution with little maintenance. Juniper likes the sun. Which groundcover you use depends on sun conditions.

Pachysandra, Ivy, and Vinca all like shade or partial sun. Ajuga will take almost any conditions and can be aggressive. When covering a slope this can be good!

If the slope is not too severe, you can plant some large shrubs and groups of perennials, covering the rest of the area with mulch.


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Landscaping On a Slope - Landscaping Picture
by: Maria

I have a very steep hill beside my garage. It has plagued me for five years. I am wondering if you had a larger picture of the one at the top of your web page. It looks like it could be perfect for me.


Hi Maria,
I'm not sure which photo you are referring too? Is it the one with the purple perennials lining the driveway? Or another?


Hi Susan,
The web page is titled Landscape Design Advice. It looks like I want to go there...peaceful..colorful...I can't tell what is planted on it..but I definitely see yellow and purple and what looks like maybe a rock.
Look forward to hearing from you,


Hi Maria,
Now I know which picture you were referring to.This project had a slope next to the driveway and extended along the street. I created an entire perennial garden. I used Butterfly Bush, Day Lily, Fountain Grass, Ornamental Grass, Black-Eyed Susan, etc. We also used boulders.


Dear Susan,
Thank you so much. I am going to try and duplicate what you did. My bank is just as steep as your project, and all those plantings work well around here already. So, If that's ok with you..I will credit the design to you.


Thanks. Good luck with your project. There are a few concepts to follow.
1. Plant in least 3 (more is better) of one variety.
2. Have plants next to each other be different textures/leave types.
3. Place taller plants here and there for height interest. All one height gets boring.


Dear Susan,
I will send you a picture when I am finished. Today I bartered with a landscape fellow for 3 boulders. I am so excited. Can't wait. Thanks so much for your input. You are a doll.

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