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Landscaping a Slope

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Have an uphill grade in your yard? Don’t sweat it; celebrate it! Here are some ways to beautify a slope and protect the ground at the same time.

lantana and lavender on slope

Slopes pose a landscaping challenge: The steeper they are, the harder they are to work with. But they also offer an opportunity — a better view. In a flat landscape, a ground cover of lavender and lantana, above, might be lost among taller companions. But on a slope, they’re easier to see and appreciate.

terraced garden

Steep slopes should be covered to prevent erosion. Grass is a great soil stabilizer, but on an incline it can be difficult — and dangerous — to mow. One option is to install terraces that gradually step the grade downward. These stone walls provide multiple levels of flat ground that are easily accessed. The daylilies (first tier) and Russian sage (second tier) are large enough to command attention from a distance yet need no extra watering once established.

Learn how to install a block retaining wall.

birch trees on slope

Another solution is to plant woody plants, such as these white birch trees shown in fall. Trees have an extensive root system to stabilize soil and an expansive canopy to soften rainfall. Underplant with ferns, hostas, or shade-tolerant ground covers such as vinca vine, which will gradually spread to fill the site. Protect bare spots with a mulch of shredded leaves or wood chips.  

Learn more about mulches.

ajuga on slope

Spreading ground covers are great for slopes. The only drawback is that they can take a few years to fill in. Once in place, though, ground covers do a fantastic job of stabilizing the soil with their migrating roots. And they look pretty, too, like this ajuga shown blooming in spring.

ivy by gate and fence

Ivy can be an excellent, no-maintenance ground cover. This English ivy (Hedera helix) is in a small, contained area where it won’t cause problems. Avoid using it near woodlands, as it can become a thug. Two other possibilities: Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), both offering pleasing red fall color.

rocks and plants in front of house

If an ivy-covered slope doesn’t hold enough interest, try something more elaborate. This small bank is in a prominent location by some steps, so the homeowners created a natural scene complete with boulders. Easy-going plants include lavender, campanula, agapanthus, society garlic, and pink-flowering bougainvillea at the base of a retaining wall.

heathers on slope

By their very nature, slopes drain rapidly. Many are also sun-drenched. Those are two good reasons to use drought-tolerant plants. These heathers are used to growing in the harsh conditions found on hillsides. Aesthetically, they add color when in bloom and texture throughout the growing season.

Landscaping a Slope – Lowe’s Creative Ideas

With the right plants and mulch, a slope can become a featured part of your landscape. Better yet, you’ll be doing your part for the planet by protecting a precious resource: soil.