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Use Retaining Walls on a Hillside Landscape

Landscaping a hillside property is a challenge.  If you have a steeply sloped yard, you may be wondering just where to begin.  A hillside landscape can be done, it just requires more preparation and work.

Avoiding Soil Erosion With a Retaining Wall

The biggest challenge when planning a hillside landscape is to avoid soil erosion. During a heavy rain, the water will flow down the slope, taking the topsoil with it downwards. This makes it difficult for the plants to maintain a good root system so they can grow naturally and healthy.

Hillside Landscape Retaining WallThe solution to this is simple, but requires some significant effort. What you can do is convert the sloping land into a stepped area. This is done by excavating a portion of the slope and making it level so that water that comes from top seeps into the soil keeping the soil intact for the healthy growth of plants.

The flat portions of the slope are protected from erosion by using a small stone wall, also called as a “retaining wall”, which holds the soil in the flat portion intact.  Depending on how steep the slope is, and how much area it covers, it may require a series of retaining walls to be built. This kind of arrangement is extremely useful in hillside landscaping. Retaining walls have holes at regular intervals for easy drainage of excess water. Height of the retaining wall varies as per the angle of the slope and number of stepped soil beds.

Hillside Landscape Plants

Once you have gone through the effort of creating that nice, stepped hillside, it’s time to begin planting.  A nice advantage of a stepped hillside landscape is that you can select different plants for the various levels, making each step in the hillside a landscape of its own.

When choosing your plantings, be aware of the size the plants will grow to once theey are mature.  For example, don’t plant a tall shrub at the bottom or it will hide the plants on the next level.  When selecting plants, you can choose any of the plants that are appropriate for your location.  Be aware of how the root systems of the plants will affect the retaining walls you have built.  A tree’s root system could easily push the wall down.


Hillside landscaping is harder than ordinary landscaping but, with planning, it can be done. Retaining walls are a great way to help create usable space.  If your slope isn’t seep enough to warrant this approach, there are other ways to landscape your sloped yard. Before jumping into the project, consider what issues are likely to affect you.


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