5 Steep Garden Ideas for Sloping Sites
Bring your backyard to life with our stylish, practical steep slope garden ideas
Building your dream garden on a steep slope may seem tricky at first. While few gardens are completely flat, steep sloping sites introduce a range of additional challenges such as drainage, accessibility and landscaping concerns which can make planning your new garden feel intimidating.
On the other hand, sloping sites also offer countless opportunities to create a unique outdoor oasis. From incorporating a set of elegant sandstone steps, to creating a cascading flower garden or excavating your slopes with a stylish rock wall, a garden on a steep slope offers endless possibilities!
In this blog, we’ll show you five of our favourite steep garden ideas perfect for sloping sites. Read on!
#1. Build a set of statement steps
A set of bold, eye-catching steps are a great way to create a sense of flow and direction in your sloped garden. They also make it easier to get around in your backyard – a must-have for steep gardens!
We recommend building your steps with materials that complement your home’s design. For example, modern steps made with sandstone are perfect for traditional or retro facades while materials like weathered steel are great for modern, contemporary designs.
Depending on the size of your incline, a small set of steps will break up the landscape and make climbing tough inclines a breeze. For small gardens, design your steps with a curved incline to take up less space.
Your steps can be surrounded by a set of tiered planters for a structured, tidy look — or, keep it natural and place your steps amongst flowing bushes and tall plants!
#2. Grow plants and flowers on sloping beds
If you love growing flowers and plants, consider adding a sloped garden bed to your backyard. Sloped beds soften the appearance of your incline and can be placed alongside a set of steps to create a structured look.
A sloped bed is essentially a regular garden bed placed on an incline but requires some extra planning to keep your plants and flowers flourishing. This is because sloped sites are more susceptible to topsoil erosion and struggle to retain moisture if not landscaped properly, meaning young plants need extra care and water to get established.
While most plants grow straight up even when placed on an angle, we recommend planting groundcovers like Native Violets or Kidney Weeds that will reduce soil erosion.
#3. Break up the space with tiered planters
Planters are one of the most common steep slope garden ideas because they add structure and cohesion to steep areas. Unlike sloped beds, tiered planters are contained within a tiled or ceramic structure that can be built into your slope through infilling or excavating. Plus, they’re an easy way to grow your favourite flowers and plants at home!
Tall planters are perfect for growing bushes on steep slopes while smaller planters can be arranged at different heights to create a tiered structure. We recommend building your planters alongside your garden steps using materials that match the exterior facade of your home – this is a popular design trick for adding structure and cohesion to your garden.
#4. Add a bordered seating area
Adding tiered structures to your garden creates space for sunken seating areas with walled borders, perfect for dining, entertaining and unwinding. Build a small patio area between your tiered planters to create a walled-in seating spot featuring freestanding benches and tables! For small spaces, you can build benches on the surrounding walls to save space without sacrificing comfort.
Sunken seating areas don’t need to be large to stand out — in fact, a small seating nook is a charming addition to your sloped garden regardless of its size. Match the walls of your seating nook to your stairs or paved steps to tie your garden together!
#5. Keep it curvy
Curves create a soothing, gentle atmosphere that perfectly complements structures like steps or planters that often add a rigid, geometric feel. If your sloped garden looks too rigid, adding some curves can make your garden feel tranquil and relaxed.
Curves are one of the easiest steep garden ideas to integrate. Round furniture like chairs, tables and ottomans can be introduced to break up the geometric feel of your sunken seating areas. For larger projects, design your plant beds with round borders to create unique circular formations or soften your benches and walls with curved edges.
How to design your garden on a steep slope
While steep slope gardens are easy enough to work with, there are several things you need to keep in mind before building your outdoor oasis.
- Drainage and Irrigation — Drainage is one of the most important steps in planning your sloping site garden. Without proper drainage, water can build up on your site or drain too quickly, turning your garden into a flooding hazard. Additional drainage channels and sinkholes are often essential, but for particularly steep gardens, you may need to consider contouring your land to soften the slope. Excess water can also be soaked up by strategically placed plants.
- Accessibility — Steps are a great way to make your sloped garden easier to navigate, but steps on steep inclines often require handrails to avoid tripping hazards. While many people opt against handrails for style reasons, there are many stylish, practical handrails available that improve safety without compromising style.
- Infilling and excavating — If you’re looking to add a deck or patio to your sloping garden, chances are you’ll need to infill or excavate your slope. Infilling involves building a retaining wall at the bottom of a slope, which is then filled in to create a level area. Excavating allows you to create larger walls and shaded areas by building a retaining wall at the top of the slope, rather than at the bottom. In both cases, infilling and excavating need to be done in accordance with local council bylaws.
With so many factors to consider, it’s important to always consult with an engineer or builder. A professional can help you explore any drainage, accessibility and infilling or excavating solutions that may be needed to bring your steep garden ideas to life.
Our steep garden ideas are perfect for your new build with Montgomery Homes
We offer a range of tried and tested designs suitable for uphill, downhill and sideways sloping sites. We use our unique split-level slab technique to create higher ceilings, better drainage and improved natural light.
With over thirty years of experience, our split-level designs and expert building techniques will bring your new home to life.
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