How to Make the Most of a Sloped Backyard in Wellington

Curved pool

How to Make the Most of a Sloped Backyard in Wellington

Different contours produce different challenges when it comes to transforming a landscape. In Wellington particularly, landscapers are often confronted with steeply, sloping backyard areas. Explore the design options for maximising this more complex landscape.

Tiered garden with retaining walls

The challenges

Key elements that landscape designers bear in mind when working with a sloped landscape include:

Scope of your slope

From gentle hills to steep terrain, landscape designers specialise in solutions. If your slope is steep, or if you plan to do a lot of construction on your land in terms of decking, terraces, or a playground, you’ll need retaining walls. 

Wondering how to level a sloped yard for a patio? Will your dream vision require a digger? In general, a steep backyard means steeper prices for landscaping, hence the benefit of expert advice from the outset.


Steeply sloping land is especially vulnerable to unsightly erosion and loss of topsoil. A landscaper’s best advice in this case is smart hill planting. Hardy plants with strong root structures can help keep the topsoil in place. A combination of New Zealand natives, carefully chosen for height and density, will help build up a protective humus cover as well.

Where will the water go?

Drainage can also be an issue for those with sloped properties, especially after a Wellington downpour. In addition to the silting problems caused by erosion, water can pool and create unattractive soggy patches in your backyard. Your local Landscaping Consultant will have solutions to effectively drain water, often through connecting with your property’s existing stormwater system.

High maintenance

Mowing grass and attacking the weeds on a sloping area can turn into a major chore! Your Zones Consultant can talk through design and planting options that match your lifestyle preference, making low-maintenance a practicable priority.

Sloped winding paths

Solutions for your sloped terrain

Make the most of your steep backyard by implementing a few of these ideas:

Add a deck

Just because your land is steep doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice premium outdoor living space. Create a beautiful living area by installing a deck or terrace of decks to your property. You’ll just need to take extra care and time with the foundations to limit any risk from erosion.

Make sure you choose the best decking material, too. Decking on a steep slope should be lightweight and durable to make it easier to work with during construction. Popular options include PVC and composite decking. You’ll also want to be sure your contractors know how to build a patio on a slope – experience is key here, which is where your Consultant’s network of trusted professionals comes into play.

Choose the right garden

Rock gardens are popular as a way to reduce erosion, since well positioned rocks are sturdy and can hold soil in place. They also provide a great filtration system for water and help to slow down the rainfall run-off. Planting for year round colour in a rock garden can be a stunning addition to any outdoor space!

Another way to mitigate erosion is by growing native plants, particularly those indigenous to the Cook Strait region. Your Landscaping Consultant can help you pick the best specimen for your specific sunlight, wind exposure, and soil conditions, whether your garden is edging on a slope or if it’s directly on the hill. Vege and herb patches can be accommodated too. For a cottage-inspired landscape design, consider a retaining wall garden filled with flowers and small flowering shrubs. These designs typically feature garden steps on a steep slope, too.

Smart hardscaping

Add flow to your landscape with pathways, pavers, steps, and trellis or fencing. If you have different terraced levels in your yard, connect these spaces by building garden steps on a slope. Your Landscaping Consultant can help you with any hardscaping details you’re wondering about, like how to build a concrete driveway on a slope. Hardscaping is part of the extensive list of services that Zones Landscaping offers. 

Exterior of the house with steps

Why hire a landscape designer?

When you have a property with a sloped backyard, hiring an expert can bring reassurance for a fabulous end result. Our Landscaping Consultants in Wellington work within a design and build framework, and have plenty of experience working with hilly land. They come armed with local knowledge and a network of contractors to breathe new life into your landscape.

Since your land is sloped, there could be additional requirements, including resource consents or structural engineering reports, to ensure your decking and gardens are structurally sound. Your Landscaping Consultant can help you navigate these steps. 

Ready to make something out of your sloped backyard?

Get in touch with a Wellington Landscaping Consultant today to chat about how to terrace a sloped yard, how to plant a vegetable garden on a slope, or any other questions you may have about your hilly terrain. We look forward to hearing from you.

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