Combining greenery with hardscaping creates a balanced appearance.

How to Landscape Stone Steps on a Hillside

by Amie Taylor

Stone steps provide an easy way for your family to transition from one level of outdoor space to another on a hillside. They can also add a stately, elegant look or country charm to any landscape. Unfortunately, without adjoining landscaping, stone steps can appear bare and mundane. Using green landscaping, you can magically transform the appearance of your steps.

1 Install flower pots or urns overflowing with colorful flowers in the grass on one or both sides of the stone steps. Dig out a level space in which to place the pots and situate them far enough away from the steps to ensure that they aren't a tripping hazard for children on the go. African marigolds (Targetes erecta), hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 to 11, bloom throughout the summer, attract hummingbirds and require minimal maintenance. Or consider Mexican petunias (Ruellia x brittoniana), hardy in USDA zones 8 to 11 and famous for their lovely purple blooms and ability to attract butterflies.

2 Plant ornamental trees on either side of the stone steps to accent the hillside pathway. Use a shovel to cut into the slope and create a flat spot in which to plant the trees. Mulch around the base of the trees to aid in water absorption and to prevent runoff during periods of excess rain. Ornamental trees are an appropriate choice because their root systems are typically small enough not to interfere with the stone steps. Consider the golden chain tree (Laburnum × watereri) with its dangling yellow blooms and which is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 8. A harbinger of spring in USDA zones 5 to 8, showy pink and white bracts with their yellow-green tiny flowers bloom on the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 and reaching heights of 15 to 30 feet in full sun to partial shade.

3 Install shrubs along both sides of the stone steps to create a cozy wall of greenery. "Crispa" (Stephanandra incisa "Crispa"), commonly known as lace shrub or cutleaf stephanandra , displays delicate blooms and grows up to 3 feet tall in USDA zones 3 to 8. Another shrub easy to establish on a slope is the thornless flowering quince, "Scarlet Storm" (Chaenomeles "Scarlet Storm"), which blooms with vividly red flowers in USDA zones 5 to 9.

Items you will need

  • Containers
  • Flowers
  • Shovel
  • Ornamental trees
  • Mulch
  • Shrubs

Tips

  • Wire trees in place, if necessary, until their roots are established to hold them in place on a slope.
  • Aerate the lawn to increase rainwater absorption and prevent runoff.

Warning

  • Avoid installing aggressive plants that may grow out of control.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images