Tiered garden ideas: 11 stylish ways to use levels in your plot

Whether it's a necessity or a stunning design decision, these tiered garden ideas will put your plot's vertical space to good use

tiered garden ideas: steps leading to seating area
(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Are you on the lookout for tiered garden ideas? From striking steps lined with contemporary planters to sunken pools and soft, shrub-covered slopes, when it comes to these stylish designs, the possibilities are almost endless.

Sure, creating distinct levels is a go-to solution for difficult, awkward-shaped plots, but tiered garden ideas aren't merely functional. They're also a great way to add intrigue and character to a space. A dramatic way to define zones, tiers are a must-have if you're after interesting garden layout ideas that will elevate your plot (literally).

To help you get inspired, we've rounded up some of our favorite tiered garden ideas to level up your plot.

What can I do with a tiered backyard?

tiered garden ideas: stone wall and step with planting

It may be subtle, but a stone step and retaining wall is a timeless approach to tiered garden ideas

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb/Future)

So, what can you do with a tiered backyard? Well, if you're dealing with a hilly plot to start with, then levelling it off into distinct zones gives a much more defined structure. With this, there is more space for stable, flat ground – ideal for supporting the likes of garden furniture ideas, flowerbed ideas, or even outdoor kitchen ideas.

Tiered garden ideas can also be used to create areas that are more private – great for tucked-away seating areas, for example. They can also be used for all kinds of stylistic reasons. For instance, borders and beds arranged across levels really helps to show them off, especially if you add good garden lighting. 

So, in short, there are all kinds of opportunities that tiered garden ideas can provide. But don't just take our word for it, take a look at some of the gorgeous designs below.

1. Border your levels in wood for a rustic edge

tiered garden ideas: wooden edging alongside levelled flowerbeds

Give multi-levelled beds an organic look

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Multi-levelled flowerbeds are a gorgeous way to draw the eye and create maximum impact in a space. Bordered with a gently curved, wooden-cladded edge, the textural planting is given a sense of structure. However, it feels laid-back, rustic, and organic – great if you're after a more natural vibe for your plot. If you're after something more contemporary, go for stone instead with its sleeker finish, or head over to our garden edging ideas for more inspiration.

Use the levels to create interest on a steep slope around a lawn, and why not position an arbour seat halfway up? It will make a lovely destination spot to perch with a cuppa and take in the view.

2. Go for sleek paving

tiered garden ideas: white contemporary paving with levels

Opt for pale-hued paving across your plot's levels

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Love a contemporary style? Incorporate your favorite paving ideas into your levels for a cohesive finish that feels polished and fuss-free.

We love this pale hue which helps to expand on the feeling of space. Plus, it contrasts beautifully alongside all the planting – allowing the vibrant green hues to really pop. 

What's more, the tiers in this scene provide a distinct divide between different garden zones. Whether it's a small patch of lawn for lounging, an elevated spot for dining, or a raised space for taking in the view, there's a space for every need. Yet, with the consistent use of materials and styles, the whole look ties together seamlessly.

3. Create a tucked-away seating spot

tiered garden ideas: steps leading to seating area

A hidden seating spot adds a sense of discovery to this plot

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

Tiered garden ideas are a great way to create intrigue in a plot, as they break up the line of sight. Here, wide stone steps are set at an angle, and, upon reaching the top, a cozy nook– perfect for sitting with friends – is revealed.

Don't forget to deck out the scene with festoon lights and one of our outdoor heating ideas. That way, you can enjoy the space from day to night without a hitch. 

Looking for more designs? Our outdoor seating ideas has plenty.

4. Level up your decking for your tiered garden ideas

tiered garden ideas: backyard with a large raised deck area

Add multi-functional steps to your deck as part of your tiered garden ideas

(Image credit: Unsplash/Im3rd Media)

By default, decking ideas are often used to raise outdoor furniture off of the ground. But, as shown here, this versatile landscaping feature can be used to create more tiers than just one.

This chic design offers generous steps out of the house, that could, at one end, also double up as a bench. With a rich mahogany hue, it offers a cabin-in-the-woods vibe that complements the treetop surrounding beautifully.

5. Step up to a pool

tiered garden ideas: swimming pool

Give your pool its own level in your garden

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny/Future)

A swimming pool is given a whole new element of luxe when it's incorporated into tiered garden ideas. By giving it a level all to itself, it feels tucked away and exclusive – the perfect place for a relaxing swim at the end of the day. 

And, why not recreate an infinity pool effect, but, rather than looking out over an ocean, offer an elevated view over a flowerbed instead? Leaning against the end of this pool with a view of fragrant rose bushes certainly sounds like heaven to us.

Head over to our backyard pool ideas for more inspiration.

6. ...or sink it down for a chic space

tiered garden ideas: Large swimming pool in a backyard with a built in hot tub

A sunken pool will always be chic

(Image credit: Jackson Design & Remodeling)

Of course, you could go the other way and step down to a pool rather than up. A sunken design like this offers a sense of privacy from the house and a luxurious, spa-like vibe. Steps either side balance the scene and add to the opulent feel.

Surround with pale, rendered walls to help reflect the water's soothing shimmer in the midday sun. Meanwhile, a cleverly integrated bench adds a contemporary twist – simply boost the comfy factor with a patterned cushion or two.

7. Line steps with modern planters

tiered garden ideas: steps with grasses

Tones of grey contrast beautifully against bright green ferns and grasses

(Image credit: Future)

This steep stairway could feel imposing, yet clever design features keep the look light and modern.

For starters, we adore the use of gradient grey hues on the sleek planters. Not only do they provide a contemporary look, but they offer the perfect complementary backdrop to the vibrant green hues of the leafy foliage, allowing them to shine. Meanwhile, the choice of textural planting makes a pleasing contrast against the angular lines.

White walls either side help to bounce light around the area and make the space feel larger.

Looking for more ways to get from level to level in style? There are plenty more interesting garden steps ideas that you can turn to.

8. Disguise a slope with shrubs

tiered garden ideas: shrubs along slope down to lawn

Soften the boundaries with mounds of gentle planting

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Instead of carving out hard landscaping solutions for your tiered garden ideas, you might prefer to go a little more natural with soft slopes. However, to keep the look cohesive, try a few design tricks from the garden shown above...

As you can see, the house is much higher than the lawn, yet the boundaries between the two are softened with the use of planting. Large hydrangeas, flame-hued crocosmias, an evergreen hedge, and teetering hollyhocks draw the eye upwards and merge the lines between lawn, border, and architecture in a seamless fashion. Not to mention, they provide tons of visual interest and color. Want to recreate the look? Take a look at our tips on how to grow hydrangeas to get started.

If you're looking to cover a steeper slope in plants, then the RHS has some guidance. They say that soil in these conditions is often poor, so be sure to prepare it properly, removing all weeds and adding well-rotted manure or good quality compost where possible. On very steep slopes, try pegging down coarse coconut matting to prevent the soil from washing away when it rains. Plant through the matting – as it decays, the plants should start to secure themselves by their roots.

They also suggest to grow long grass on steep banks for an informal look. Plant up with self-naturalising bulbs (snowdrops, for example), or wildflower plug plants for extra visual appeal.

9. Define steps with an arch

tiered garden ideas: steps leading to summer house

Rustic materials and a decorative archway give this garden tons of charm

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

An old red brick wall with integrated steps offers a vintage look to this tiered garden. And, we love the contrasting edging along the top – a simple yet effective style statement. 

In keeping with the country-cottage vibe is an ornate metal arch, ready to support a climbing rose as it establishes. As the rose grows, it will ramble up and over the support, creating a fragrant gateway between the two levels.

It's a gorgeous way to separate the two zones of a verdant lawn and a gravelled space for subtly raised beds and garden buildings (this blue-hued beauty has got us swooning). 

Speaking of garden buildings, take a look at our summer house ideas for more lovely designs.

10. Incorporate a bench

tiered garden ideas: seating and step up to triangular lawn

Make your hard landscaping provide more than one function for your tiered garden ideas

(Image credit: James Merrell/Future)

This triangular plot is given a new lease of life with the use of tropical palm prints, playful flamingos, and a hot pink and lush green color palette.

The lower level lines up with the house, for a seamless transition between indoors and out. The elevated lawn is bordered by a clever use of hard landscaping, whereby a retaining wall doubles up as a permanent seating solution which effortlessly combines with steps.

If you have a difficult plot that you're looking to transform, take a look at our ideas for awkward shaped gardens.

11. Offer a view at all levels

tiered garden ideas: levels

Garden designed by Bowles & Wyer

(Image credit: Bowles & Wyer)

This gorgeous design is a real head-turner and has to be one of our favorite tiered garden ideas. 

The dramatic use of levels works in a multitude of ways. Firstly, it provides a stunning view of the planting from all levels of the house, explains the Bowles & Wyer team. And, as we think you'll agree, with the help of great garden lighting, it maintains its magic once night falls.

The high levels also provide a sense of shelter to the lower-levelled seating space. What's more, the wide pathways between the tiers allow easy access for maintenance.

Love the look? Take a look at our sloping garden ideas for more inspiration.

Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.