10 Simple Tips To Build a Terrace Garden In Your Yard

So you want a garden, but your terrain consists of a steep hill or slope. What should a gardener do? Consider build a terrace garden plan and watch your gardening problems fade away.

Hillside terrace gardens are a terrific way to cultivate various plants and vegetables without worrying about your hard work being washed away. Continue reading to learn how to design a terrace garden in your landscape.

How to build a terrace garden in your yard :


1. What exactly is a Terrace Garden?

If your interest in a hillside terrace garden has been stirred, you may wonder, “What is a terrace garden, and where do I begin?” Terracing in the landscape generates mini-gardens and is an excellent alternative for homeowners with steep slopes where planting would be impossible.

Terrace gardens help to reduce erosion by splitting mountainous terrain into smaller, level portions where water may be distributed and absorbed more easily.

Hillside terrace gardens give beauty to the landscape. They can be planted with a choice of evergreen creeping shrubs, perennials, or annuals.

2. Terrace Garden Materials and Design

The terrace garden design you select must be appropriate for your terrain and the degree of a slope you are dealing with. Terraces can be constructed from various materials, the most common of which is treated wood. 

Treated wood has several advantages over other materials, including its low cost and ability to mix in with the natural environment. Many homeowners want to utilize landscape timbers in their gardens that will survive for many seasons. 

To plant a vegetable garden, use cedar wood instead of plastic to avoid toxins in the soil. Bricks, concrete blocks, and pebbles of various sizes and forms are other materials that can be used.

3. How to Build a Terrace Garden

Building a terrace garden is a labor-intensive undertaking that should be undertaken only if you are in good physical shape and have prior carpentry or landscaping knowledge. If you are unsure about a project of this kind, it is advisable to contact a knowledgeable specialist. 

If you decide to build the terrace garden yourself, you must first establish the rise and run of the slope you will be dealing with. The rise is the vertical distance between the bottom and top of the slope. The run is the horizontal distance between the peak and the bottom of the hill. 

Depending on the number of beds you want, use the rise and run measurements to establish the height and breadth of each bed. Begin the terrace garden near the slope’s base. For the first tier, dig a trench. The deeper the trench should be, the more levels you have in your garden. Make sure your trench is level before inserting the basic terrace layer. 

The next step is to dig a trench for the terrace’s sides. The bottom of the trench must be level with the first trench. Layer the next level on top of the first, and use spikes to connect them. Spikes are used to securing building materials.

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Dig up the earth from the terrace box’s back to the front until the box is level. If necessary, add more dirt. Repeat these instructions for each level of your terrace. Make sure to obtain and follow precise instructions for any intricate garden patio design tasks.

4. Do-It-Yourself Guidelines for Leveling a Slope

  • Leveling or terracing sloping gardens necessitates a distinct approach during the design and construction stages, depending on whether the garden slopes down and away from the house or upwards toward the house. Visual elements such as the design of walls, wall facings, and garden lighting become crucial.
  • Pathway, step, and hard surface planning become critical concerns. Also, if you are terracing or simply leveling your garden, make it simpler to go around due to age or mobility issues. My post on landscape design for the elderly may be of assistance.
  • For whatever reason, leveling a sloping landscape makes growing easier and creates outdoor dining and play areas. If your garden has a steep slope, landscaping can make it more accessible and functional.

5. Materials used to level or terrace a sloping garden.

These are some of the most commonly used materials for terracing retention. Stone retaining walls are constructed using pre-formed concrete stacking blocks (expensive), breeze blocks, house bricks, or natural stone (expensive).

Reclaimed railway sleepers are reasonably priced and well-treated. However, the oil and tar used to maintain railway sleepers make them unsuitable for sitting on or in contact with bare skin, especially if you suffer from allergies.

New sleepers offer a cleaner, but slightly more expensive, option for retaining wall construction. They will need to be treated over time to keep from decaying.

Gabions (wire cages filled with stone or rubble) are increasingly used in household landscaping to construct low-cost, safe, and visually appealing retaining walls. See the table below.

Materials are used in constructing walkways and hard surfaces when mobility is important.

Materials for walkways and hard surfaces should be carefully selected to ensure that those using walking assistance and wheelchair users are safe and comfortable. 

Block paving is simple to install, attractive, and permeable (lets water through). Surfaces must be well-built, with firm, non-slip, level access. Although gravel is undesirable, there are a variety of other materials available.

Path surfaces should be firm, level, non-glare, and non-slip, whether wet or dry, with a well-consolidated sub-base to prevent cracking or shifting.

Terracing or leveling a sloping garden provides interest and functional space by allowing planting at different elevations, such as flower borders and a patio on the top terrace. A vegetable patch lowers down the hill with a herb garden near the kitchen. Once the slope has been leveled, the possibilities are unlimited.

Plant selection is not limited by soil erosion for gardeners, and a room is created for children’s play spaces and entertaining for families.

6. Can I level or terrace my garden slope?

Yes, a slope can be leveled or terraced. Shifting ground, perhaps digging out clay, is a chore you can do on your own. It takes much time and works to level and terrace a sloping garden. 

Keep in mind if things start to go wrong and the walls retaining the terraces collapse. It is critical to get the retaining wall right. And you end up hiring landscape gardeners to fix it. It will end up costing much more in the end.

It is well worth the effort if you opt to terrace the slope yourself. Stopping the impact of erosion by converting even a little slope into terraces would save money on plants and make the area more usable; it will also make mowing lawns much easier.

7. How to construct retaining walls for a sloping yard.

Advice on constructing secure retaining walls. You can build retaining walls out of various materials, including treated wood, gabion wire cages, or stone, house bricks (the reclaimed brick forms a beautiful wall), concrete, quarry pebbles, and compacted heaped dirt if the terracing isn’t too steep. 

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The material you use and the quality of the footings you build the wall on will determine the wall’s durability.

High retaining walls are the most prone to failure. As the retaining wall height increases, so does the force attempting to topple the wall. For example, doubling the height of a wall can increase the tipping force by a factor of three or four.

Not too high nor too low

Avoid very high retaining walls if possible for the reasons stated above. If your garden slopes away from home and you want to build a patio space just outside the house, the higher the retaining wall will need to be. 

A higher retaining wall will necessitate more stairs to the next level. With a downward slope away from home, locating the patio on one of the lower floors may be preferable to sacrificing dining and entertaining space.

Dry stone walls. This article will teach you how to build stone walls. retaining structures

How much time will it take to level a slope?

The garden size, the slope’s steepness, the number of terraces, access to the skip, and how much support you can count on will influence whether you do it yourself if you can get a digger up the hill. Leveling and terracing usually take me a couple of weeks in a small to medium garden.

8. How to Dig Out Soil for a Terrace

Using the cut and fill procedure to dig out and level a slope. To save time, move soil from one location to another.

  • The terraces are built using the cut and fill method.
  • This entails digging out soil to lower the top half of the area and filling the lower half with the same soil.
  • If you divide the area you want to level in half, you won’t have as much excess topsoil to remove.

It would be best to have the new retaining walls in place before you begin leveling. As you dig deeper down the slope, you may come across clay, stone, or rock. So having a pick-axe on hand is a good idea. Save the best soil for the top and bury the clay and gravel.

9. The various designs for terraced slopes that are uphill or downhill.

You can now start constructing the retaining walls and leveling the terrace. However, before you begin, evaluating the various design concepts for uphill and downhill slopes is necessary. This can make or break the finished product’s looks.

Both uphill and downhill slopes require a slightly different strategy during the design stage. Only the tops of steps and walls are visible from the house on a downward slope. However, as viewed from home, there is an upward slope. 

The steps and walls become the center of attention. Straight walls, broad walkways, and gradual slopes make downhill slopes look better. Uphill slopes look better with curving retaining walls that serve as garden features.

Terracing and leveling a sloping garden is an expensive project. To get an idea of what you’ll end up with, imagine the final product standing at the bottom of the slope you’re constructing the terraces. Do you enjoy what you’ll be seeing one day? 

The advantages will be easier upkeep, more entertainment space, and safe play areas for children. It will also look fantastic with a little extra forethought.

Terrace with paving. The golden guideline for a paved patio is large enough to dine and party on without falling over. To determine how much room you will require. Place a dining table in the center and six chairs around it; now, move the chairs back 18″. 

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That is the bare minimum you should aim for, and don’t forget to leave room for the BBQ! The size of your sloped garden will determine what you incorporate. Because of the numerous levels, terraces may be too tiny to accommodate a decent dining area.

Seating and a play area for children. A family with little children may want to include a safe play space and a sand pit/shed to keep the children’s toys. 

Suppose a paved terrace is not included. Ensure that there is enough natural seating throughout the garden. Stone retaining walls and sleeper-raised beds create excellent locations to sit and reflect. Seats should be spread out to follow the sun. 

Make the steps wide enough to sit on as well.

 Slopes, terracing, and steps are illuminated. Tips for positioning landscape lighting can be found here. Lights on an incline

What elements can I incorporate into my tiered garden?

Birdbaths, bird feeders, large flowerpots, and trellises can all provide interest. However, in a little sloped garden, don’t go overboard. Too much clutter makes it appear smaller; design advice is available on my small garden page.

Water elements

Water features and streams that run from top to bottom look great in a sloping garden. They appear to connect the numerous terraces, and the sound of rushing water cascading over pebbles is unique.

10. Slope plants

Working with plants takes a lot of time. Existing plants and shrubs can be dug up. At the same time, the groundwork is being done, transplanted into containers and flowerpots, and saved for replanting after the terracing is finished.

Plants for the terrace

On this page, I’ve included the best plants for slopes. Some deep-rooted plants, in addition to appearing nice, can assist retain soil and prevent erosion on slopes. In contrast, shallow rooting plants, such as ivy, can cause erosion.

Coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, garden phlox, Shasta daisies, purple Russian sage, and herbs like catmint and creeping phlox perform well on the edge of a terrace.

Plants with grey or silver leaf, such as artemisias and silky wooly lambs ears, offer contrasting colors to brighter blossoms and miniature evergreen shrubs.

Beds of vegetables, Of course, you could be unsociable and prefer to raise your vegetables to entertain. At least, that’s what my wife thinks! Include space for a compost heap if, like me, a growing area is more vital than paving. A minor incline will not harm the plants if the growing area cannot be leveled.

The size of your sloped garden will determine what you incorporate. The terraces may be too small to accommodate a suitable dining space if there are too many distinct levels.

What do you hope to gain from your leveled garden?

You can see why it is necessary to consider your new terraces before leveling the slope or hiring a landscape gardener to do the groundwork. 

When I am called in to price a terracing project, I always ask, “What will be the major objective of the new tiered garden?” Major design adjustments are costly once the leveling process has begun.

If you plan to undertake the task yourself, don’t be discouraged by the cost or the difficulty. Soil erosion, inaccessible locations, and slick slopes may be a nightmare, especially as we age. It is possible to make it a safe location to use again with some thought and hard work.

Do the articles on 10 simple tips to build a terrace garden in your yard design help you get a rough idea of how to planning your landscape design? If you are interested in a sloped garden, you can also read how to make sloped backyard ideas on a budget.