Natural stone steps and retaining wall for landscaping on a hill, with planter and garden border framing home entrance. Beautiful hardscape, colorful landscape design.

5 Reasons Why Landscaping on a Hill is a Landscaper’s Paradise

Landscaping on a hill can be difficult because of the physical effort it can take and because of water erosion. The problem landscapers face is that every time it rains the roots on your shrubs and plants become just a little more exposed. 

Then eventually they lose their rooting altogether and the plants die and get washed away. However, you can break the flow of the water by strategically adding rocks to the area.

The Good News

The good news is that landscaping rock slows the erosion process and adds aesthetic value to your property when done right. So the process involves more than just putting gravel or large rocks on your slope. 

Groundcover rock needs to be placed in such a way that it remains stable and won’t wash away. And boulders need to be bedded down so that they don’t eventually dislodge. 

And, of course, the right use of the proper plants and shrubs can help root the soil in place while providing splashes of color.

5 Ideas for Landscaping on a Hill

One of the most appealing features of landscaping on a hill is that you can take your landscape design to the next level. You have the full spectrum of landscaping mediums to play with, such as grass, soil, rock, and plant life on a variety of elevations. And the ability to terrace and to create elaborately landscaped points of interest with retaining walls, raised beds, stone steps, and patios on your hillside affords you a great opportunity.

You have the chance to create nearly any type of landscaping design, from simple to elaborate designs, ranging from a low-maintenance xeriscape or a wildflower meadow to an elegantly hardscaped and finely sculpted backyard landscaper’s paradise. Read on for 5 creative landscaping ideas for hilly slopes.

1. Xeriscape Your Hillside

What is xeriscaping? Xeriscaping is a landscaping approach where plants are chosen that can flourish requiring as little water as possible. The landscape designer usually begins with a selection of native plants and grasses. Then sometimes, other similar species that adapt and perform well in the local environment are added. After this, attractive stone designs and hardscape features are used to slow runoff and add beauty.

Xeriscaping has really caught on here at Lake of the Ozarks in the past few years. Homeowners can transform their erosion-prone hillside into an oasis with environmental advantages and breeds fewer pests.

Low maintenance xeriscape yard with boulders, gravel, and indigenous plants

2. Landscape a Wildflower Meadow

Hiking or strolling through a field of wildflowers and natural grasses on a hillside is one of the nicest ways to enjoy nature in your yard. You will be rewarded with spectacular colors and an array of textures, such as sloping rock creekbeds, boulder arrangements, ledge stone features, or rock gardens. This natural wildflower meadow will also provide spectacular views from your home and patio or deck.

Wildflower meadows are beautiful. Plus, they offer easy integration of your landscape into the natural environment. Additionally, your property will offer a welcoming habitat for pollinators and other local wildlife. This low maintenance approach with native plants and rock allows the wildflowers and grasses to grow through their full life cycle without interference or pruning and shaping. So your otherwise unusable hill area becomes an infiltration zone for stormwater, thus curbing soil erosion.

So you create the most important elements of sustainable landscapes. After performing some maintenance to help plants get well-established for one or two seasons, your hillside wildflower preserve will need almost no water, fertilizer, and work.

Colorful flowers and plants on a hillside for the purpose of erosion control. on

3. Rock Landscaping on a Hill

Another popular way to manage to landscape a hillside is to do it with rocks and hardscapes. In an area like ours where there are lots of steep slopes and long hills, the use of decorative landscape gravels is easy and inexpensive. Plus, there are so many forms of rock texture and colors available, you get a lot of options. And you eliminate mowing those steep hills, making it perfect for lake homes or second homes. So there’s no worrying about hiring someone to take care of your lawn when you’re not around.

You can still punctuate your rock hillside with stunning elements like natural stone stairs, colorful shrubs or flowers, and retaining walls to allow for stone patios and fire pits. One of the popular choices for lake homes at Lake of the Ozarks is to build a nice flagstone or bluestone patio near the lake. And people love to add fire features to their patios, like a stone fire pit, an outdoor fireplace, or a gas fire table. The ability to enjoy a fire near the lake is one of life’s more pleasant experiences.

Natural stone stepper walkway and terrace planter

4. Landscaping on a Slope with Retaining Walls

The use of retaining walls in sloped yards is the gold standard of landscaping on a hill. You get excellent drainage when they are installed correctly. But make sure to check with your landscaper on this because, sadly, not all landscapers handle this properly. When done incorrectly your retaining walls can bow and break down far too early, creating unnecessary expense.

Though more expensive, we prefer the use of natural stone or a high-quality retaining wall block. You get the best of aesthetic elegance and strength combined. 

With retaining walls you can create nice terraced areas with a nice flat lawn if that’s your preference. Or you can build terraced patios which are great for larger outdoor gatherings. One thing is certain, and that is that retaining walls can afford you a great deal of creative flexibility in your landscape design.

Three terraced patio levels on a slope by Lake of the Ozarks

5. Landscape a Hillside Rock Garden

No matter which type of design you choose when you decide how to landscape a slope, it is likely to present an engineering challenge. Water runs off quickly, soil slides away, plants contend with the pull of gravity and the loss of soil, while fertilizers and nutrients mostly just wash away.

However, when landscaping on a hill, particularly in a smaller yard, another popular idea is to transform your slope into a rock garden or rockery. And in doing so, the stones become an obstacle that can slow or even alleviate the kinds of problems mentioned above.

And the best part is that a rock garden is a joy to the eyes where the organic stone textures complement the natural beauty of plants and flowers. Rocks add texture, depth, and visual importance to your landscaping design.

Blooming violets and other flowers in a small rockery in the summer garden.

Start Planning Your Landscaper’s Paradise Today

As always, we’re here to help, so give us a call if you need help landscaping on a hill to create your landscaper’s paradise! Visit our website, give us a call, and follow us on Facebook for more information.

And be sure to watch for our upcoming article: How to Landscape a Hillside Rock Garden.

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