4 Things to Know When Starting a Terrace Garden

Here's how to create your own terrace garden

Terrace garden

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If your property happens to be situated on a hill or slope, you might think there's no way for you to cultivate a garden of your very own. But that couldn't be farther from the truth—a terrace garden design is the answer.

Terrace gardens allow you to grow a wide variety of plants and vegetables without the fear of all of your efforts being washed away. This option will allow any homeowner with steep slopes, where planting would otherwise be impossible, to create "mini-gardens" that prevent erosion by dividing hilly areas into smaller level sections. This way, the water can be better distributed and soaked into the ground.

A terrace garden can also serve other purposes on any kind of commercial or residential building or flat or slanting roof. By leveling out the area or tidying it up, you can create more outdoor living space. In this small terraced area, you can add water features, create a vegetable garden, or grow a variety of container-grown plants.

Terrace gardens can make a very attractive addition to any landscape, especially when they're planted with an array of perennials, annuals, or evergreen creeping shrubs.

Choose the Right Materials

Terrace gardens can be built from various materials, including bricks, rocks, and concrete blocks, although treated wood is the most popular choice. Its advantages include a lower price point than many other materials and the fact that it more easily blends in with natural surroundings.

Some options include landscape timbers, which can last for many seasons in the garden, as well as cedarwood, which is an ideal choice for vegetable gardens because it can help prevent any chemicals from leaching into the soil.

Masonry and stones may not necessarily blend in, but they can create a focal point for your outdoor living space.

Know Your Slope

Before you get started, keep in mind that any terrace garden design you choose will have to suit your landscape. If you are dealing with a slope, you will need to factor this into your DIY terrace garden design plans. That means knowing exactly what kind of slope you're dealing with.

You should determine both the rise and run of the slope you're working with. The run is the horizontal measurement from the hilltop to the bottom, and the rise is the vertical distance from the bottom to the top of the slope. These measurements should be used to help determine the height and width of each bed.

Building Your Terrace Garden Levels

If you've decided not to hire a professional to install your terrace garden, the first thing you'll want to do is dig a trench for the first tier at the bottom of the slope. Keep in mind that the more levels you will have in your garden, the deeper the trench. However, it should always be kept level, and your foundational terrace layer should be situated within the trench.

The next step is to dig a trench for the sides of your terrace garden—just be sure that the bottom of the trench remains level with the first trench. Your building materials can be anchored together with spikes.

Finally, you'll have to push up the soil in the back of the terrace box towards the front, to ensure that the box is level. This may require adding additional soil. These steps should be repeated for each of the levels in your garden.

Planting Your Terrace Garden

Once the actual construction of your terrace garden is complete, that's when the fun begins. Now it's time to plan out the botanical elements for your landscape.

While your terrace garden will naturally require maintenance in order to keep its beauty, you can still make the most of your space by strategically choosing plants that will thrive in your hillside environment.

A variety of vegetables and fruits, herbs, and flowers can be successfully grown in a hillside garden. Some of the vegetables that are the least cumbersome to grow, and are typically quick to fruit, in a terrace garden include radishes, various types of gourds, leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, and limes. Beginner-friendly terrace garden herbs include ginger and mint as well as thyme, rosemary, lavender, and sage.

And, of course, the flowers you choose can lend endless beauty to your garden. Annuals are a popular choice, such as varieties of hyacinths, primroses, and tulips. In the summer months, begonias, pansies, and petunias are popular, but you can also opt for more exotic flowers based on your climate.

Low-maintenance succulents, as well as aloes and various cacti, can also be great year-round choices for a terrace garden.

Just be sure that no matter what you choose to grow in your rooftop garden, you've properly researched what each plant will need to thrive, from optimal soil conditions to access to the sun.