On first impression, sloping gardens are a nightmare. Problems like soil erosion and poor soil make it difficult for plants to survive. The terrain also makes it difficult for anyone to move around, work or build anything meaningful. Then, there is the issue of water damage to structures or plants at the base of the slope.
So, whenever someone wants to turn a sloped backyard into a garden, their first instinct is to level the entire area. There is nothing wrong with this mindset. It will definitely make the space easier to garden. However, this kind of landscaping project will cost a lot of money, except you are dealing with a small garden and a gentle slope.
Therefore, it will probably be cheaper to turn that sloped backyard into a sloping garden instead. However, it is not just about money. Sloping gardens are one of the best and most efficient ways to make the most of a sloping outdoor space. So, this is one of the best decisions you can make in this situation. If done right, you could end up with something unique and dramatic.
In fact, Just being sloped instead of flat like most gardens will make your garden stand out. However, that is just a bonus. The wow factor comes from the incredible garden design ideas you can create with a sloped landscape. So, whether you have already built your sloped garden or are just about to start, here are 10 innovative sloping garden ideas you can’t afford to miss.
Terracing Your Garden
Terracing is a great way to create usable flat areas in a sloped garden. Here is how it works. You select a location, then level it using a retaining wall to hold the earth in place. As a result, you create usable flat spaces without having to level the entire garden. Then you can use the levelled space for garden functions like growing spaces, seating areas, playgrounds and sheds.
Terracing costs will depend on the size of the area and the severity of the slope. So, expect to spend more money when terracing a large area with a steep slope. To ensure safety and structural integrity, seek professional advice when dealing with steep slopes and complex designs. Hire a structural engineer and garden designer. You should also ensure that you (or the installer) use the right building materials.
For example, when building the retaining wall, you need to choose materials that can take the weight of the earth (used for levelling) and whatever you want to put in the space (after levelling it). Then you need to consider the safety of the material, especially if using it around a vegetable garden, water source, kids and pets. Some building materials contain chemicals that can leak and harm soil, plants, water bodies, pets and humans.
Creating a Rock Garden
The most cost-efficient way to make a great garden out of any location is to embrace the quirks and unique qualities of that location. Therefore, this sloping garden idea is perfect if you have a rocky and sloped outdoor space. Instead of trying to “fix” that space, use it to build a rock garden (AKA hilly garden).
A rock garden incorporates the rocky landscape as an essential aspect of its designs. It also embraces native plants that naturally excel in such growing conditions. Therefore, you don’t have to waste money trying to fix the slope or soil in that location. Plus, compared to a regular garden, a hilly garden doesn’t need as much watering, fertilisation, pruning, mowing and other plant care activities.
Even better, none of these come at the expense of aesthetic appeal. As a matter of fact, people go out of their way to create the aesthetics of a hilly garden. Just make sure you choose the native plants. Some great options include cacti, alpines, perennials, succulents, alliums, wildflowers, wild tulips and agaves. You can also adopt a planting scheme that prioritises variety and visual interests. Simply put, ensure your planting scheme includes ground cover, height and beauty.
Building a Garden Deck
Every garden should have a seating area where you can have fun with family and friends. So, this sloping garden idea is essential. If you decide to build a garden deck, the first thing on your mind should about finding the right location. Some people prefer to put their deck in a place that has a great view. Others prefer to have it close to the main house. No matter where you choose, you will probably have to do some levelling.
As for the design, choose something that will fit in with the rest of your garden. You should also consider the functions you want your garden deck to perform. For example, do you want it to be a simple seating area or a full-scale dining area, living space or outdoor kitchen? Whatever decision you make, here are some elements you can add to your garden deck. They include garden furniture, lighting, garden privacy screen, garden steps, fire pit, shade, flower beds and ornamental grasses.
Creating a Water Feature
Here are two reasons that made us fall in love with this sloping garden idea. Reason one, water features have a way of making gardens feel more naturalistic and fantastical at the same time. The charm is undeniable. So is the therapeutic effect that the sound and sight of moving water have on the human mind.
Reason number two is the fact that sloping gardens scream waterfalls. It’s like a low-hanging fruit that hopeless romantics like us can’t help falling in love with (pun intended). The terrain is already set. You just need to add a water body and let it flow naturally along the landscape of your sloping garden.
While you are at it, add water-loving plants to improve aesthetics and attract wildlife. You can also add ramps and landing spots to make the pond even more attractive to wildlife. Their presence will benefit your plants and your garden’s entire ecosystem. And if you want to enjoy that water feature as much as possible, build a seating area nearby.
Planting a Slope Cover
Here is an excellent strategy for building sloped gardens. Level some areas to create usable flat space, then fill the rest of the garden with groundcover plants. It is a simple and effective plan that lets you get the most out of a sloped garden without spending much money. It also stops you from putting yourself at risk trying to farm a slope.
Now, let’s talk about the sloping garden idea that is the focus of this section. When planting a slope cover, you need low-maintenance plants that can survive the growing conditions of that particular sloping garden. You also need plants will quickly establish themselves. These plants can hold their own even if you can’t help them with good drainage and soil.
Groundcover plants for a sloping garden include fern moss, wildflower, barrenwort, dianthus, Asiatic jasmine, creeping phlox, creeping raspberry and creeping juniper. Don’t forget to make room for variety and ornamental grasses in your slope cover. Finally, you should also prioritise height down the slope. This is because plants on upper levels could block sunlight from reaching those on lower levels.
Making a Tiered Plant Bed
Due to soil erosion and other issues, the average sloped garden doesn’t have good growing spaces. So, you will have to build them yourself. This involves levelling some areas and then adding fertile and healthy soil. Or you could try this sloping garden idea.
Tiered plant beds are great for optimising space. They also allow you to grow plants with different or contrasting growth requirements. For instance, you could grow certain plants in a separate tier. This enables you to give each plant what it needs without worrying about how it would affect other plants. So, consider installing tiered plant beds, especially if you are building a vegetable garden or growing delicate plants.
Installing a Garden Slide for Kids
Slides also have a way of making it into sloping gardens. In fact, sometimes, the natural landscape has already done most of the job. You can just set down a tarp and let the kids have their way with it. That’s one of the reasons that we love this sloping garden idea. You don’t need to break the bank to make it work.
Start by visiting a local store or checking the internet for a garden slide that speaks to you. They come in all sizes and forms; big, small, freestanding, wall-mounted etc. You can install the garden slide yourself if you have some DIY experience. If not, you can hire a professional installer.
Designing a Seating Area with a View
One of the advantages of a sloping garden is the fact that you can build your seating area on high grounds. This means that you can build it somewhere with a great view. What’s not to like? Imagine yourself sitting at a vantage point, surrounded by loved ones, and taking in the sight from the vantage. Or maybe you are there alone, with a drink in your hand, enjoying the view and calm after a stressful day.
There are just a few factors to consider if you want to try this sloping garden idea. Since the seating area is on high ground, you have to think about sun exposure and privacy. Therefore, you may want to include a shade and privacy screen. Apart from these two issues, the sky is the limit. So, design, build and furnish that seating area to your heart’s desire.
Creating a Pathway with Steps
You need a way to move around and access different parts of your sloped garden. So, why not do it in style? Imagine a meandering pathway with beautiful lights and plants on both sides. The lights provide illumination and visual interest. The plants soften the transition between soft and hard landscaping. They also provide visual interest. Sounds great, right? That’s the thing about garden path ideas. They are not just about providing easy access. They are also about adding aesthetic value.
To build the best pathway possible, compact the soil and add a weed barrier. You should also pick a building material that doesn’t quickly get wet and slippery. This will come in handy during cold months. Durability matters too. So does the style and theme. Keep them in mind when making any garden design decision. Everything should speak to your garden’s style. Common building materials include timber, concrete, gravel, natural stone, railway sleepers, composite and pavers.
Building a Retaining Wall
By now, you are already familiar with the final sloping garden idea on this list. We have mentioned it a couple of times already. Retaining walls are the secret weapons of sloped gardens. They are the key to creating usable flat areas or even levelling the entire garden. This is the primary role that they play in sloped landscape designs.
However, there are many other ways to use retaining walls. You can build seats and flower beds into them. You can also turn them into living walls and statement pieces. Common materials for building retaining walls include concrete, bricks, natural stones, boulders, gabion cages, decorative blocks and timber.
There are a lot more options out there. Just ensure that the retaining wall is strong enough to perform the role you want it to perform. That means using the right materials and hiring professionals like structural engineers for complex and big retaining walls.
If you want to create a great sloping garden, you have to stop treating it like a regular flat garden. This will save you from wasting your money trying to fix something that doesn’t need fixing. It will also allow you to see the design possibilities of sloped landscapes. This includes ideas that would be impossible with a regular flat garden. So, start embracing the natural landscape of your garden. That’s what will help you come up with amazing sloping garden ideas.