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How to Landscape a Slope: Step-by-Step Guide

summer garden

Those incredible yards you drive by don’t get that way by accident. Either a lot of money or a lot of time—sometimes both—gets sunk into bringing a yard to life.

If you don’t have a flat yard, don’t worry. There are several excellent options to incorporate slopes, big and small, into your landscape design. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, most of these options are relatively cost-effective and are mostly DIY ideas.

garden flower divider

Before You Landscape the Slope

Landscaping takes planning in the best of circumstances. Before you begin landscaping your final slope design, follow these simple steps to get everything ready.

1. Plan the Landscaping

There are plenty of computer programs that you can use for designing your new yard. However, there’s nothing wrong with using the old pencil and paper and sketching out your ideas. Putting the ideas on paper allows you to envision the project and prepare for the unexpected.

Pre-planning like this also gives you a chance to ensure you have all the materials and tools you’ll need if you’re doing it yourself. And if there are any special order items, you can order those before actually beginning the landscaping.

Photo Credit By: juefraphoto, Shutterstock

2. Clean Up the Area

Once you’ve got the plan, it’s time to clean everything. This includes pulling weeds and getting rid of old plants and other garbage. While you’re at it, you might as well tidy up the areas of the yard you’re not landscaping too.

3. Prepare Existing Plants to Stay

If you have any plants that you’re incorporating into the new landscape, ensure they are trimmed and ready. Also, inspect everything that’s staying for pests or diseases. You’ll want to deal with all of that before planting anything new.

Consult a landscaping expert

Find a brick and stone specialist in your area, and get free, no-commitment estimates for your project.

4. Remove Existing Features

Garden trimmer
Photo Credit By: Alexas Fotos, Pixabay

Any old features like retaining walls or fountains can be removed at this point if they don’t fit with your new plan. Unless you’ve got some experience in this area, it may be a good idea to hire a professional at least for pulling out complicated hardscape pieces—even if you DIY the rest of the landscaping.

5. Prepare for New Landscaping

Depending on what type of landscaping you’re doing, prepare the space at this point. For example, if you’re putting in a new garden, you’ll have to pull out the existing sod and till the ground. Then you’ll add fertilizer or mulch.

6. Consider Water Pressure (optional)

If you’re installing a water feature or an irrigation system, it’s important to consider the available water pressure. You’ll only be able to do what’s available from your house, so your water features could be limited.

garden flower divider

Slope Landscaping Ideas

Now that your slope and surrounding area are ready to go, here are six ideas to get those creative juices flowing.

1. Build Stairs

stairs in garden
Image credit: Palatinate Stock, Shutteerstock

Without major landscaping, you can get rid of a hill or slope in your yard. But a great way to make use of the space is through stairs. How elaborate you can get is only limited by your creativity.

There are a couple of ways to approach landscaped steps on a slope. You can go the paved route and dig out the slope in steps and build concrete forms. Then you can use paving stones to build a path.

The other option is to use flat river rocks. This is possibly a cheaper option but typically will require much more effort. Either type of stairs looks great in its own right.

2. Water Feature

Another great use of a slope is with a water feature. If you have a steep slope, it’s easy to create an incredible waterfall. Adding a natural pond under the waterfall gives your own slice of paradise in the right climate.

Water features are super eco-friendly. You’ll be providing a water source for all sorts of critters. If you live in a fairly developed area, the local animals will appreciate the oasis you create as much as you do.

3. Build a Wall

cropped bricklayer working on brick veneers
Image Credit: cnikola, Shutterstock

Retaining walls are super common ways to landscape a slope. There are several ways to make a wall. If you want to hire someone or you have experience with concrete, you can pour a concrete retaining wall. You can also use various types of bricks and make a brick wall.

One of the hardest parts of doing a wall will be digging to get a flat foundation for it. The type of wall you opt for will determine if it’s a DIY idea or not.

4. Create a Rock Garden

Creating a rock garden is a fairly easy way to landscape a slope. Lifting rocks and placing them can be hard work if you’re using big ones. But there’s often not a lot of digging required for a rock garden.

All you have to do is ensure that the grass and weeds are taken out. Then put down some landscape cloth to prevent new growth and lay down rocks however you want.

5. Rewild the Slope

garden with wooden edge
Image Credit: Dean Clarke, Shutterstock

Rewilding is becoming massively popular nowadays. The best part about it is that there isn’t really a wrong or right way to do it. The idea is to plant native flower species and let everything go wild—hence the name.

This means no mowing and minimal weeding. Quite often, people will include wood or rock piles in rewilding. These piles encourage the wildlife to make their home in “the wilds” of your yard.

6. Create a Winding Trail

If your slope is gradual, putting in a nice, winding trail with rocks or paving stones is a nice touch. This allows you to incorporate other things like rock gardens or flower beds up the slope. This type of landscaping will work best on a long, gradual incline.

garden flower divider


There are a few universal steps to follow when landscaping a slope in your yard. However, there are countless ways to achieve your desired results. A landscape plan often incorporates several of the above ideas into one grand, landscaped yard.

Featured Image Credit: Hannamariah, Shutterstock


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