Hillsides can pose problems when landscaping, with erosion topping the list of concerns. It might feel like a waste of time, money and energy to plant a stunning landscape only to have it wash away in a heavy downpour or over time. Gardeners can take steps to prevent soil erosion and make the hillside an attractive feature in the landscape design instead of a worrisome eyesore.
An effective way to landscape a hillside involves creating terraces. Make them very simple using flat stones as retaining walls and steps. Each terrace becomes a planting bed for almost anything. Herb gardens look particularly lovely trailing over terraces. More practical gardeners can plant vegetables on a hillside garden. Lay at least a 3-inch layer of mulch to conserve moisture because the soil will drain quickly. Terraces require heavy work initially because you need to move soil around and dig out firm, level areas for the stones.
A simple rock garden adds appeal to a hillside landscape. Place flat rocks strategically on level areas to form steps. Scatter large boulders at random intervals as features. Plants that perform well on a hillside rock garden will help control soil erosion. Wildflowers and grasses native to the region require little maintenance and fill in quickly. Some shrubs to consider include elderberry and red currant. Small trees such as Scouler willow give height and shade.
A hillside is an appropriate location to build a waterfall with a pond at the bottom. Make a stream that trickles and flows down the hillside to create a very natural-looking landscape design. Plant water-loving plants along the stream, including watercress and wild ginger. Around the water feature, use similar plants as a rock garden, focusing on native species. They increase the natural ambiance and provide hiding places and food for animals attracted by water. The small, water-loving Hooker willow next to a pond provides shade.