How to terrace a garden slope

Written by carson barrett
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How to terrace a garden slope
Building a terrace can provide a dramatic overhaul of a hillside. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If your garden contains a lot of hills, it can limit the amount of space you have to plant gardens or flower beds. You can solve this problem by creating a terrace. A terrace is a flat area carved into a hillside, often used to provide a visual transition between a building and the natural surroundings. This is a labour-intensive project that can provide a dramatic change in the appearance of your property.

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Wooden landscape timbers
  • Edging shovel
  • Shovel
  • Tamp
  • Safety goggles
  • Drill
  • 6 mm (1/4 inch) spade bit
  • Rebar
  • Sledgehammer
  • Hacksaw
  • Circular saw
  • Timber screws
  • Topsoil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the rise and run of the slope where you are building the terraces. The run is the horizontal width of the slope. The rise is the height of the slope from top to bottom.

  2. 2

    Calculate the number of terraces by dividing the rise by the height of each terrace. If the run is 3.6 m (12 feet) and the rise is 1.8 m (6 feet), for example, you could construct three 3.6 m (12 foot) long beds that are each 60 cm (2 feet) high.

  3. 3

    Place timbers at the base of the hill and drive an edging shovel into the ground about 2.5 cm (1 inch) away from the timbers on both sides. Remove the timbers after you have scored the ground.

  4. 4

    Dig a trench between the score lines that is equal to half the height of the timbers. Level and tamp the soil at the bottom of the trench.

  5. 5

    Drill holes every 60 cm (2 feet) through the bottom timbers with a 6 mm (1/4 inch) spade bit. Set the timbers into the trench with the holes pointing straight up.

  6. 6

    Drive rebar through the holes in the timbers and at least 30 cm (1 foot) into the ground with a sledgehammer. Cut the excess rebar from the top of the timbers with a hacksaw.

  7. 7

    Lay a second course of landscape timbers on top of the first, staggering them so that the seams do not line up. Drill holes and install lengths of rebar to hold the timbers in place.

  8. 8

    Dig back about halfway into the hill and move the soil forward to meet the timber wall you just constructed. Level the soil in preparation for the next terrace.

  9. 9

    Dig another trench at the front of this terrace, tamp the soil, and cut timbers to fit in two layers; this will be the front border of the second terrace. Drill holes and install rebar as before in Steps 5 and 6 to hold the timbers in place.

  10. 10

    Excavate the hill for your third terrace and repeat the process to install landscape timbers to make the front border of your top terrace.

  11. 11

    Add topsoil and plant as desired.

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