A landscaped decline adds visual interest to a yard.

How to Landscape on a Decline

by Amie Taylor

While a perfectly flat yard makes mowing and gardening easier and gives the kids a level playing field for their games, it can also be boring when it comes to landscape features. A downward slope in the yard, however, adds interest and allows you to install features that set it off to perfection. When you have a decline in your outdoor space and you're not quite sure what to do with it, there are several options you can choose to play up this special area.

Plant a ground cover on the slope. Ground covers help retain the soil and prevent dangerous erosion. Choose a low-growing option like Stonecrop (Sedum acre), U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 8, that grows in sun to partial shade and bursts forth with yellow blooms in the spring. Alternatively, opt for soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), USDA zones 2 to 8, which grows anywhere from 12 to 30 inches high in full sun and blooms with red, white or pink blossoms.

Install a retaining wall at the bottom of the slope. Use concrete blocks secured with mortar; flat stones that can be stacked atop one another for a craggy, natural look; prefabricated bricks of a uniform size; landscape timbers; or natural stones that you've collected yourself.

Create a gently-sloped path on the decline. A path with a gradual decline gives adults and kids a safe and easy way to transition from one level of the yard to another. Use embedded stepping stones set level with the ground, poured concrete or pea gravel to create the path.

Create a rock garden on the slope. Till the ground and set the rocks firmly into the soil so they retain their position without shifting. Insert plants like ice plants (Delosperma cooperi), USDA zones 6 to 10, to add a pop of red or purple between the muted tones of the stones or beardtongue (Penstemon caespitosus), USDA zones 4 to 7, which thrives in dry, sunny locations and blooms with lavender flowers from May to July.

Items you will need

  • Ground cover
  • Retaining wall materials
  • Stepping stones
  • Concrete
  • Pea gravel
  • Rocks
  • Rototiller
  • Rock garden plants


  • Create sufficient drainage at the bottom of a decline by digging a trench and filling it with gravel.


  • Always mow a grass-covered decline from side to side horizontally to prevent injury.

About the Author

Amie Taylor has been a writer since 2000. Book reviews, gardening and outdoor lawn equipment repair articles and short fiction account for a handful of her published works. Taylor gained her gardening and outdoor equipment repair experience from working in the landscaping and lawn-care business she and her husband own and operate.

Photo Credits

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