Everything in this slideshow
A gentle slope relies on shade-hardy plants for textural interest.
- Big brush strokes of color — from the same plant — draw up the eye through the landscape; here, a bright red stretch of astilbe beckons at the top of the path.
- A terra-cotta container offers a no-fuss way to integrate additional flowers and foliage along a slope.
- The selection and placement of hardscape materials reinforces the style of a garden setting, as with these free-form stacked boulders at the path’s edge.
- Bright blooms of yellow sedum soften the geometric angles of path and edging.
- Wide and deep, the steps offer a leisurely stroll up the hill with plenty of shade-lovers for view along the way, including sedum and lamb’s ear.
- Are you using retaining walls to manage your hillside? Find out how to keep them in great shape.
Pretty plants and trees make quick work of a steep incline.
- The design of a slope is as much about the approach as it is about the angle of the hill; here, a grass path sinuously curves around plantings to draw visitors toward the stairs.
- Retaining walls present a garden conundrum: How do you dress them up without them looking fussy? A series of simple metal trellis and flowering vines does the trick here.
- With no spot along the slope for a resting spot, a bench offers a breather before the rise of the stairs.
- Shrubs and trees such as a full moon maple maintain year-round visual interest.
- Restrained yet elegant plants, including hostas, roses, and coralbells, provide a cohesive visual style.
A hillside garden relies on uncomplicated plants and a straightforward path.
- A switchback path makes quick work of a steep hillside and helps reduce erosion.
- A path’s design can add visual interest to a landscape; here, the flagstones are mortared into place in an understated pattern.
- To shorten the approach to the boathouse and dock, the path neatly segues into a series of steps at key curves.
- Slope safety is key; this simple metal version fades discreetly into background.
- Ivy works as a vigorous, no-fuss groundcover, with a few shrubs here and there to up the vertical interest.
Broken by a series of terraces, a gentle slope strikes the right notes.
- Slight slopes such as this one can become boring when planted with just grass. Elements such as terraces break up the rise, offering plenty of gardener-friendly spots for flowers and shrubs.
- A shrub or two placed on each terrace maintains visual and textural consistency.
- Just as an unbroken slope equals blah, an unbroken wall can be a distraction. White latticework offers cover as well as a spot for a climbing vine.
- Trees can be used — or omitted — to enclose a yard or open it up. To one side of this yard, a cluster of trees shields the area from the neighbors, while the other side has a nearly unobstructed view of the expansive back yard.
- Neither exotic nor overdone, the plant selection, including black-eyed Susans and daylilies, offers a pretty, pleasing palette.
Plants and materials in similar colors break up a steep expanse.
- Resting spots on hillsides can come in many forms, such as a table and chairs, a pergola, or another structural element.
- Offering hardscape elements as separation between the grades in a garden is a visual trick to rest the eye; here, a small gate marks the end of the stairs.
- Plants and materials should complement each other in style and form. The color of the wood rail fence echoes the stonework, while its casual style recalls the rail near the gate.
- The stairs up the slope neatly transition into a series of terraced beds.
- Repeated groupings of plants such as dusty miller, salvia, phlox, and impatiens, provide visual consistency.
Two available paths provide very different garden experiences down a slope.
- An interesting path can spice up a slope as much as plants can. The curve in the walkway adds grace to the garden.
- A flagstone path leading down the slope offers a different character and textural contrasts.
- In place of a rail or a fence, mid-height shrubs fill the space to the narrow side of the path.
- Several hostas, which cascade over the stair-stepped path, soften the wood edge.
- Shrubs and steadfast perennials, such as daylilies, congregate at the crown of the hill.
Plants edging a path work wonders to offer views and tame a side yard.
- Add a path or two along planting beds on your slope; it’ll help make garden maintenance easier.
- Gravel and flagstones form a path that hugs the bottom of the hill.
- Repeated groupings of shade-loving plants flank the sides of the walkway, creating a sense of intimacy.
- Tall trees define the border between one yard and another, and create a lovely backdrop for the plantings.
- Shrubs dress up the scene at the top of the slope, creating a great scene when viewed from inside the house.
Setting the Scene
Using elements of balance and proportion is key to create the classical style of this slope.
- Even small hills offer the chance to include interesting garden elements. At the top of this slope, a retaining wall divides steps from a seating area behind it.
- Focal points in the form of garden ornaments provide the eye a place to rest.
- Symmetry is a key design tool. This garden relies on it for a tidy, classical look.
- Increasing plant heights draw the eye from the base of the garden up the hill, with lamb’s ears as groundcover, boxwood at mid-point, and yew at the top of the stairs.
- A large tree shields a seating area at the top of the hill and adds a visual layer of interesting materials to the garden’s layout.
An Abundance of Bonsai
A collection of miniature plants adds rhythm and grace to a landscape display on a terraced slope.
- Use a slope as a design advantage. Here, a small rise next to stairs is cleverly carpeted with grass before turning to a bounty of plants.
- Hardscape materials maintain consistency in your landscape. Using the same type of stone ties together the various walls.
- Several smaller terraces break up the steep hill; installing small paths also avoids building a massive stretch of retaining wall.
- Garden beds can be home to permanent plants, or beds can contain moveable growing creations that allow for more flexibility using container gardens.
- Tidy, understated bonsai stand in stark contrast to the azalea and rhododendron blooms.
Walk in the Woods
A walkway up a slope echoes the spontaneous feel of the landscape around it.
- Stairs up a slope can appear either man-made or natural; the latter was the choice with these broad, worn stairs.
- Curved metalwork edging echoes the slope of the hill as it discreetly separates walkway from grass.
- Easy-care shrubs add visually interesting elements to the landscape. Here, a collection clusters along one side of the walkway, eliminating the need for edging.
- A trimmed hedge at the top of the hill visually distances the home behind it from the pathway.
- A sturdy conifer and the more delicate foliage of Japanese maples offer contrast to each other throughout the seasons.