Landscaping Ideas for Hillsides


Landscaping your hillside to protect from erosion while adding interest to your property can be as complicated as building a retaining wall or as simple as scattering shrubs. You can optimize existing tiers, enhance a smooth surface or create the illusion of tiers with landscaping timbers, borders, plants and mulch.

Step 1

Layer a tiered hillside with decorative borders along the front rim of each tier and landscaping timbers along the back wall. Stack your landscaping timbers as high as you need to retain the wall of each tier. Drill a hole and drive rebar through the first row of timbers into the ground. Secure the stacked timbers together with spikes spaced 2 feet from the joints. Excavate the front rim of each tier before your lay the border. Select from cobblestone, river rock, brick or anything that you like. Scale the size of your border to the height of your retaining wall. Large stones or boulders fit best with retaining walls more than 5 feet high, while pavers and other small borders look best with a retaining wall that is no more than 4 feet high. Landscape the terrace with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees such as holly and oakleaf hydrangea. Plant your tallest growing trees in the back, against the retaining wall. Flowering perennials such as day lilies and lavender are good choices for the center of your tier, mixed with small evergreen shrubs. Annuals such as begonias and petunias and small perennials such as tulips and Stella de Oro day lilies belong along the front of your tier. Landscape each tier so that something is blooming from spring through fall. Finish landscaping your hillside with mulch to protect your plantings and to complete the look.

Step 2

Keep your hillside from sliding by scattering evergreen shrubs and perennial bloomers intermittently throughout. The root systems help hold the soil in place and protect your property from erosion. Plant ground covers such as periwinkle or ivy to spread, bloom and further safeguard your hillside. Select your plants based on the amount of sun or shade available and on the steepness of your hill.

Step 3

Tier your hillside with hostas for a simple landscaping solution. Plant rows of hostas, and mulch in between with pine bark. Hostas have a shallow root system that will help keep the soil on your hillside intact. Hostas are perennials that begin growing each year in the spring with deep green or variegated green and white leaves. By midsummer, the leaves are full and sprinkled with stalks holding tiny blooms. Hardy varieties can last through late fall in warmer climates.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when you work with landscaping timbers.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscaping timbers, drill, spikes, rebar, shovel
  • Cobblestones or river rock
  • Plants
  • Mulch


  • Build a Retaining Wall with Landscaping Timbers

Who Can Help

  • Evergreen Shrubs and Trees
Keywords: landscaping, ideas, for, hillsides, planting, on, a, hillside, hillside, planting

About this Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.