Some hillside landscaping tips

Some hillside landscaping tips

It’s easy to understand why it’s nice to own a home in the hills. The panoramic views from the top make the cost worthwhile to own a plot of land on a hill. But landscaping-wise, it’s a challenge. Hilly terrain have always been difficult to manipulate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t effectively turn a small hill into a beautiful hill visible from afar. No, there won’t be a danger of falling and rolling down a hill while you’re gardening. But don’t you agree it’s a cool idea (if you have a house situated on hilly terrain), to start looking at what you can do to enhance the hill you’re on?

Contrary to popular opinion, hillsides can make good gardening land, and it pays to landscape them, if you are living in hill country or just have a little hill on which your home stands. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is an example of simulating an ornate hill or mountain, upon which luscious gardens grew. Clearly, the ancient peoples thought nothing of landscaping hills, which were very normal landscaping concepts to them.

hillside homes

Here are some hillside landscaping ideas and tips.

The gradient of the hillside

The gradient of the hillside matters a lot in landscaping it. Gradient determines how much you can feasibly modify, if you’re working on it solely in a personal capacity. If the gradient is too steep (excess of 30 degree angles), you may need to consult professional landscape designers. Does walking up the hillside equivalent to a strenuous workout? If yes, then you’d be better off leaving it to landscaping experts who will have the equipment to reduce the gradient, and dig the earth up.

Terraces are so classic (and sound

outdoor terrace garden
Outdoor terrace garden with soil as base.

terracing.jpgWhat sort of climate are you living in? If it’s rainy, then you could consider digging terraces to minimize soil erosion. If it’s arid, terraces serve a rather more different purpose, namely to “civilize” the terrain. Terraces can be paved with rocks or gravel, and cemented together to overlook a prospect. Most Mediterranean styles incorporate terracing into their hillside landscaping designs, just look at the styles of the Sicilian, Italian, Spanish, and Greek landscaping creed to obtain a better idea.

Suitable plants

Evaluate the soil of the hillside. Is it arid, or mildly dry? Almost every hillside has dry soil because the water runs off down the hill; so be sure to choose plants that can live without demanding water requirements, or better still, tolerant of short droughts. The soil of hillsides are often poor as a result of leeching of nutrients, and rocky outcrops may predominate in certain locations, so be prepared to buy better topsoil to compensate for it. Some suitable drought resistant species include:

  • Trees – Poplar (Populus tremula) , Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica), Eucalyptus (E. pauciflora, E. nicholii)
  • Shrubs – Golden Showers (Genista tenera), Bush Clover (Lespedeza thunbergii), Sage (S. officinalis, S. fulgans), Yucca (Y. gloriosa).
  • Perennial herbs – Geranium (G. endressii), Ostespermum species, Monkey Grass (L. spicata), Spurges (Euphorbia).

Bushes are best for hillside landscaping, since they are hardy, and don’t require a lot of water. The smaller the plant, the less water it needs. The kinds of bushes that might be good for hillside gardening are those that grow more vertically as opposed to horizontally. It’s useful to bear these things in mind when thinking of some hillside landscaping ideas.


After selecting the suitable plants that you want to plant, you’d also need to determine a suitable pattern for the plots on which to grow them. The area for the plots are usually square or rectangular in shape. Plots give order to any hillslope and instantly points them out as being “landscaped,” even to non gardeners.

hillside landscaping
This home utilizes terracing and plots to define and demarcate the steep hillslope in its backyard.

The bushes can be placed in a linear pattern, or they could be equally spaced, so that the inside zones look like a checkerboard. Spiral patterns are less commonly seen and in my opinion, not really suitable for hillside landscaping because they look haphazard from afar. The best hillside landscaping ideas involve demure, and blended design concepts that do not scream for attention, yet are noticeable from far and near.

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