Does A Garden Need To Be Level?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Every step you take to prepare a garden ultimately determines how well your plants will thrive. Whether it be the consistency of the soil or the nutrients you use, everything plays a role in your garden’s longevity. So, does a garden need to be level?

A garden doesn’t need to be level, but it’s easier to take care of a level garden than one that is on a slope. Gardens on slopes are more prone to problems like soil and root erosion that can hinder the growth of your plants. However, several plants like bugleweeds, lilyturfs, red fescues, hydrangeas, and creeping junipers have strong root systems and can thrive on slopes.

The easiest way to plant a garden when the ground isn’t level is to use planter boxes. Follow along as we explore everything you need to know about taking care of a level garden versus one that is on a hill.

Does My Garden Have To Be Level?

Your garden doesn’t need to be level, but level gardens are much easier to take great care of. Level gardens typically have the same amount of soil drainage throughout, and this makes it easy to water your plants evenly. It also ensures that your plants will have similar root depths and that your plants will get an even share of the nutrients you feed them.

You can more easily learn how the time of each day affects the sunlight that your garden gets. This helps with planning your garden and positioning plants that crave full sunlight in a spot where they can get it.

Sloped and raised gardens are great and effective as well, but level gardens are the most consistent and easiest to take care of.

Can You Plant A Garden On Uneven Ground?

You can plant a garden on uneven ground, but it requires some time and patience. Many homeowners build or buy box planters to put their plants in when planning a sloped garden. This can help keep the plants as level as possible to encourage healthy growth despite the slope.

You must stake the box to the ground so that it doesn’t slide when the soil gets wet. If you get creative enough, you can strategically layer the soil so that it is even with the ground before the start of the slope. Many homeowners plant gardens on slopes without using boxes as well.

However, this is much more difficult because you must pay attention to the soil drainage and see how the water runs downhill. Pick plants with strong root systems, as it will help anchor the plants into the soil on steep slopes. Avoid planting gardens on ground that is too uneven without using a raised box or else the soil may wash away.

What Kind Of Plants Grow On Slopes?

Many plants struggle to grow on slopes, but many species with dense roots can thrive on hills. It takes plants with fibrous roots to grow on slopes because they can adapt to soil erosion and water runoff. Let’s look at plants that you can easily grow on uneven ground without having to put them in a raised box.

Creeping Juniper

Creeping plants often do well on hills, and creeping juniper is no exception. The tendrils often grow long and will eventually cover the ground evenly. Creeping juniper is a great option if you are trying to cover as much ground as possible.

The creeping juniper grows quickly, especially if the plant gets enough sunlight. Creeping juniper is a full-sunlight plant, and it needs water at least twice per week. However, creeping juniper is considered drought-tolerant, so it can hold up well during long periods without rain if you water them frequently enough.

Siberian Cypress

Siberian cypress is another plant that sits well on slopes and takes up a lot of space. If you take good enough care of it, Siberian cypress can grow over 6 feet wide. Of course, you can prune Siberian cypress if you don’t want it to take up that much space.

It rarely grows more than 18”-20” tall, and it often sits much lower to the ground. An evergreen, Siberian cypress can do well in partial shade, but it tolerates sunlight and even mild droughts as well.


Many shrubs struggle to grow on slopes, but hydrangeas can thrive on hills. If there is a good mixture of sun and shade, hydrangeas can thrive on slopes if the soil drains well. Placement is important for hydrangeas, as they require at least 6 hours of sun on most days.

Hydrangeas can even help prevent soil erosion on slopes. They can soften the soil to reduce the tension of the roots of other plants. This will ultimately help the surrounding plants and reduce the risk of soil erosion and landscaping problems.

Groundcover Roses

While rose bushes can grow over 8 feet tall, groundcover roses stick low to the ground, which makes them perfect for sloped gardens. You don’t have to worry about groundcover roses growing too tall, causing the roots to weigh the soil down. While you can prune them to your liking, groundcover roses typically grow close to the ground, despite how quickly they spread.

Plan carefully so that you can plant your groundcover roses in a spot where they get as much sunlight as possible. Water them at least three times per week unless you get a lot of rain. This will ensure that the roots can absorb the water, since much of it is likely to run downhill, depending on the steepness of the slope.


Perfect for ground cover, bugleweed is a gorgeous plant with blue flowers that doesn’t need a level garden to grow. Bugleweed grows quickly, sits low, and does well in full sun or partial shade. This helpful plant can also choke out weeds before they cause trouble in your garden.

It’s also quite durable compared to many groundcover plants. You can even walk on bugleweed without worrying about damaging it if it’s in good shape.


Lilyturf is a unique plant that perfectly embodies flowers and grass. It can even cover the ground and conform to the slope in your yard. Lilyturf is great for covering a lot of ground on a hill and filling the space between the other plants in your sloped garden.

A perennial, lilyturf will come back each year if you take good enough care of it. Lilyturfs love the shade, but they can thrive in full sun as well if you maintain moist soil.

Red Fescue

Ornamental grasses like red fescue are perfect for sloped gardens. Red fescue can thrive in cool weather and can tolerate plenty of rain. Some homeowners include red fescue with a mixture of other ornamental grasses to create a layered look that is perfect for sloped gardens.

Red fescue only needs around 6 hours of sunlight per day to grow and thrive. It goes well with tall fescue and bluegrass. Be careful when you plant red fescue, as it can quickly spread unless you section it off.

How To Stop Soil From Sliding Downhill

The best way to stop soil from sliding downhill is to plant shrubs and grass. Shrubs have tough roots that keep them planted in the ground. Grass has impressive root systems as well that can help keep the soil intact when it rains a lot in your garden.

Shrubs and grass can also help prevent soil erosion, so they belong in every yard. Soil is also less likely to slide downhill if you put a lot of mulch in your garden. Mulch protects against erosion and can soak up a lot of the excess water on particularly rainy days.

Avoid overwatering your plants, as that is a major cause of erosion and soil running downhill. Drip irrigation is one of the best ways to avoid overwatering, and it can keep your soil intact.

Summing It Up

A level garden is easier to take care of than one on a slope, and you can get more consistent results in most cases. However, you can get great results with a garden on a slope if you use raised boxes. It also helps to plant shrubs and grasses, as the root systems will make your soil stay in place.

Several plants, such as creeping juniper, hydrangeas, and lilyturfs can thrive when you plant them in sloped gardens. Siberian cypress, red fescue, and groundcover rose are easy to take care of and perfect for hills as well. Carefully water your plants if your garden isn’t even, as the soil is more likely to slide downhill.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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