Steep or hilly yards can pose some of the biggest landscaping challenges, but also some of the most beautiful solutions. Make the most of a sloped lot with artful stone, terraces, built-ins or even a slide — these 10 creative outdoor spaces tackle the problem with style.
1. Artful stonework. Go beyond the average retaining wall and opt for something extraordinary instead. Walls can be created using dry stacked Arizona sandstone, slate and bluestone.
2. Hillside slide. Why stick with stairs when a slide is so much more fun? In a more kid-friendly yard, a stainless steel slide is set into the terraced landscape, ending next to a sandbox with a removable cover.
3. Stone ramp. If the terrain in your yard isn’t too steep, a ramp lined in stone makes a lovely alternative to stairs. Interspersed with mossy ground cover, the “steps” develop a weathered look over time.
4. Built-in bench. Create a retaining wall and seating area in one with a built-in bench that swoops upward. As part of a larger patio, the built-in seating provides a quiet space to read or relax next to the outdoor dining area.
5. Steel-lined steps. Corten is a steel that develops a patina over time, without causing corrosion to the metal. It can be used to form a retaining wall along a stepped path, leading from one zone to another on a hillside lot. Lush ornamental grasses soften the lines of the steel wall and concrete steps.
6. Sunken patio. Create a lush, private outdoor space with steps leading down to a patio ringed in terraced planting beds. The multiple levels of greenery make even a small patio feel more spacious.
7. Desert garden. Get a similar terraced garden look in an arid climate by incorporating xeriscape plantings. The color and shapes of corten steel planters enhance the architecture and landscape.
8. Hillside hearth. Snuggled into a hillside, an outdoor fireplace looks extra cozy, and the hill provides a natural windbreak. A splash of bright red and yellow in the seating area echoes the hue of the plantings, drawing the eye into the garden.
9. Treehouse perch. On a very steep lot, a deck extending from the house can provide a lovely spot from which to view the rest of your property. Curving decks wrap around the home, even incorporating a mature tree with built-in bench seating.
10. Terraced gardens. Fieldstone terraces beautifully divide the space in this expansive, gently sloped lot. The upper terraces lead to a picket-fenced vegetable garden, while a path of stepping stones leads down to a bluestone patio with stone fireplace.