Landscaping on a slope

Landscaping on a slope

Landscaping on a slope brings all sorts of challenges but it can lead to incredibly beautiful gardens. We’ve got some garden design and landscaping ideas for anyone with a sloping garden.

Landscaping on a slope gives you plenty of opportunity to create a really interesting garden. Imagine recontouring the space so that plants that would normally be near your feet rise up to eye (and nose!) height. 

If you enjoy the views from the Yorkshire Dales – we can’t promise you anything quite as dramatic as that – but we can create different viewpoints where you are looking down (or up) towards garden features as opposed to being on the same level as them.

So how DO you start landscaping on a slope. Here is our 5 step guide.

  1. Hire a good garden designer – it’s the very best investment you can make
  2. Set your budget at the beginning of the project. 
  3. Think about the way you’ll want to use your garden – not just for leisure, but where will you store the wheelie bins or dry your washing?
  4. Have professional help with the landscaping – especially if you are building retaining walls or adjusting the drainage on your plot.
  5. Expect a mess – and warn the neighbours that they may hear noisy machines for a few weeks

landscaping a sloping garden - before work begins

A sloping garden needn’t be a nightmare to maintain – careful garden design and landscaping will make the whole space more accessible

Hiring a garden designer for your sloping garden

Sloping gardens generally pose more technical issues than a nice flat plot.  Things like making sure that rainwater doesn’t drain towards your home or onto neighbouring properties.  If you are planning on creating terraces, retaining walls must be built well enough to support the weight of the soil behind them for time in eternity. A good garden designer knows exactly how to address all of these issues without busting your build budget.

Then there’s healthy and safety to consider. Building regulations ask for various safety features like balustrades. Your garden designer will understand the rules and make sure that your plan complies with them. Think too about accessibility – will you still be able to manage steep steps when you get older?

Having said that, sloping gardens, properly designed and built can be an absolute delight. Both in terms of aesthetic appeal and usability.  A garden designer can help you to visualise your new plot. And he or she will be able to recommend a landscaper who has the capability to bring the design to life safely.

Any good landscaper will ask for a professionally created garden design to quote from and work from. By hiring a garden designer, you will be making every aspect of your garden makeover process much easier. 

May we recommend Tapestry Design Studios? Based in Colchester but working for clients all over the country, Tapestry Design Studios are closely aligned with Holland Landscapes and the design team there will double check approximate build costs with the landscape team before submitting their design.

Visit their website here

Design ideas for landscaping on a slope

There’s more than one way to tackle a sloping garden. Take a look at these images of gardens built by Holland Landscapes

sloping garden in Mersea

This sloping garden in Mersea has been divided into a series of broad terraces.
Beyond the archway is a vegetable garden and beyond that, a sun deck with views over the water.


vegetable garden built on a slope with raised beds, paving and steps

Sloping veg garden with sturdy steps and a series of raised beds. This design reduces the risk of slipping on a muddy slope.

landscaping a sloping garden

The build budget for this steeply sloping garden lent itself to some gentle re-contouring and a set of sturdy steps to make it easier to access the lower parts of the plot


curved retaining walls

Curved retaining walls with an inbuilt water feature add oodles of interest to this garden makeover


Why hire a professional landscaper?

Landscaping a sloping garden is not as simple as it may sound. In actual fact, it’s civil engineering – only on a smaller scale.

You will need to be very aware of underground utilities such as water pipes and electricity supply that could be disturbed by recontouring. And you may well need to install new drainage features such as soakaways and slot drains, simply because as the land changes shape, rainwater will behave differently.

Often, landscaping on a slope means there is a lot of soil to be moved.  That means either backbreaking work with a barrow and spade OR hiring a machine and operator. A professional landscaper will know the quickest and most cost-effective and most efficient way to recontour and will probably already have the tools and machinery to do it.

When moving soil it’s crucial that it’s handled carefully. Accidentally mixing subsoil with topsoil will   make it very difficult to grow plants in the future, and, if soil is temporarily stored, it needs to be done in a certain way to avoid killing the soil microbes that all plants depend upon. Again, a professional landscaper will take good care of your precious soil.

Then there are things like steps and retaining walls. These are not something you can just “knock up” using materials from the DIY store.  They need careful planning and execution – particularly as they will be holding back tonnes of topsoil. Believe it or not, retaining walls need careful drainage too. Rainwater needs to be able to move around and disperse through your garden – you are creating a garden structure – not a river dam. The last thing you need is for your garden walls to collapse and cause a landslide!

Sadly, a good proportion of Holland Landscapes’ work involves remedial work where DIY landscaping projects have failed to stand the test of time. Honestly – it would have been cheaper for the householder to have had their garden professionally built in the first place.

Is landscaping a sloping garden worth the cost?

Absolutely yes! When you have easy access to all parts of your sloping garden it will no longer unused piece of land that’s a nuisance to look after. It will become a very desirable outdoor room that adds value to your property and improve your lifestyle.  Consider landscaping a sloping garden as an investment – not as a cost. Because it truly will enhance your life.

Want to know more?

Talk to the team at Holland Landscapes

Review some case studies of sloping gardens

Gently sloping back garden Lexden. 

Steeply sloping back garden in Colchester. 

Terraced garden in Chelmsford.

Sloping front garden in Holland on Sea.

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