How to Hardscape a Sloped Yard: Options & Ideas
Fear not! All is not lost. There are some things you can do to tame the slope and still have a beautiful outdoor living space.
Let's discuss:Option #1: To put it bluntly, we 'destroy' the slope by simply removing the sod! This gives you a flat piece of land on the low side, and then suddenly a higher piece of land on the other side. To prevent erosion, we install a wall of blocks in front of the sod of the cliff side. This approach literally gives you a brand-new space that you didn't have before, by essentially digging out the slope. It also has the cool visual aspect of a retaining wall, as they do add a lot of aesthetic value to a space.
Option #2: In this option we're not going to dig out the slope but instead turn it into a graded walkway. Level by level we remove enough sod for a slight landing, and then place either a paving stone, gravel, brick, or just plain dirt, whatever you desire as the step. As we dig into the slope, placing landings and steps, we also want to put some vegetation alongside, bordering the walkway, to give it that extra visual appeal.
Option #3: Now for some fun! A sloped space offers a unique opportunity for landscape designing because of gravity. Simply turn the slope into a stream that flows downward, collects, gets pumped, and returned to the top. Nothing adds awe and beauty to a landscape like a water feature, and because the sod is already graded (since it is a slope), a lot of the work is already done! You just need to dig in a path for the stream, line it with lining, add stones, water and a pump!
Option #4: Let's rock and roll by turning a sloped space into a rock garden. If you can't use the space, then you might as well make it look great! This is a good solution since you typically don't want to touch or walk in a rock garden, as you'll disturb the arrangement, and because they are not easy to walk on anyway. Sand pits, boulders, light shrubbery, flowers, and maybe even a little Japanese lantern. Such spaces give great joy and relaxation to those who own them.
Option #5: In option 1 we essentially removed the slope, and were left with a flat plot, and then a cliff in front of which we then put a retaining wall. Option 5 is similar, but in this approach, we terrace the slope, and don’t remove it entirely. We simply make large 'shelves'. And bit by bit these shelves ascend, and you reach the top of the original slope. It should be noted that this type of design option will require a larger piece of land, since the terraces sprawl out a bit, and you need to make each terraced section large enough to be usable, if you have a very steep slope and not much land, there will not be enough space for the terrace steps, in that case a walkway or singular retaining wall would be best.