retaining wall hillside landscaping
Proscapes & Tree

Proscapes & Tree

How to Landscape a Steep Hillside

Not every property is a perfectly flat canvas that allows for a simple, straightforward landscape design. If you have a steep hillside there are still a wide array of options to choose from for your landscaping. Here are some ideas to make the most intimidating slopes work in your favor.

Planning Out the Difficult Areas to Landscape

Steep hillsides can come with a whole list of issues beginning with soil erosion, because water runs down during rainstorms and carries soil with it. If your slope isn’t too steep for grass, performing regular lawn maintenance, including mowing, can be both difficult and dangerous on steep hills.

The best way to approach a steep hillside is to plan for your desired use of the space. There are several options to design a beautiful, yet still functional landscape to remedy issues with slopes.

Retaining Wall

Retaining walls are a simple way to counteract soil erosion. For hillsides, you can create a tiered wall. Tiered retaining walls transform your slopes into flat areas that can be used for planting trees and shrubs, grass areas or outdoor living spaces.

A retaining wall can be constructed from a variety of materials, the most popular being block, manufactured from concrete, or boulders. Depending on the how tall the wall needs to be in order to retain the slope, it may require an engineer to sign off on the project. This can limit your choice of wall material types since some are not rated for walls taller than certain heights.

Outdoor living area carved out of a steep slope with retaining walls and custom block steps


Hills lose topsoil at alarming rates during heavy rain events. To protect the soil on the top of your hills, you can install ground cover plants or native grasses. Many shrubs and perennials have sturdy, grasping roots that capture loose topsoil and help protect your slope.

While plants are a beautiful addition to your hillside, additional soil may need to be hauled in if the hill has already experienced severe runoff prior to planting shrubs or grasses. But regardless of the process, planting shrubs and grasses offers a truly natural appearance while retaining your hillside.

Build Pathways and Stairs

Stairs or pathways are a functional addition to a hill, especially when paired with a retaining wall. Adding stairs can be an excellent way for you and your guests to safely navigate throughout your property.

Install Sod

Some hillsides are not too steep to mow, so grading the area and laying sod or hydroseeding can be a great option, especially if budget is a top priority. This may also require installing an irrigation system to effectively water the newly created turf area so the roots can grow strong enough to help keep soil in place.

If you’d like an assessment for remedying the slope on your southern Minnesota property, get in touch with the experts at Peters’ Patio & Landscape today!

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Are you looking to renovate your property but are not sure what to add? View our gallery to see the many attractive landscapes and outdoor living areas we have previously designed and built.

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