The Salutation Gardens » 8 Easy Steps to Terrace a Sloping Garden

8 Easy Steps to Terrace a Sloping Garden

8 Easy Steps to Terrace a Sloping Garden 1

Everybody wants a beautiful garden at their home, but not every time you get a flat land for it. Even if you’ve got your home on a hill and your garden is quite sloppy, you can still make a beautiful place out of it by creating a terrace garden.

Creating a terrace garden adds beauty and depth to your backyard. This article shall help you to select the tools and guide you step by step to terrace a sloping garden.

Tools for Sloping Garden Terracing

Tools list for terracing a sloping garden can be dynamic and mostly, depends on your preference. However, let’s have a look at a genesral supply list that you might need to terrace your sloping garden:

  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Sledgehammer
  • Pickaxe or digger
  • Hammer
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Hand rake
  • Marking paint
  • Chalk line
  • Retaining wall materials

Step by Step Guide on How to Terrace a Sloping Garden

This section of the article will guide you to develop the terrace garden in your backyard. Let’s begin the real work, shall we?

Step 1: Planning


Planning is the first and foremost step to terrace your sloping garden. You will have to plan on what you want to grow in it, and what you want it to look like. Depending on these preferences, you must select appropriate supplies to make the terraces.

The major issue you will face on terrace gardening is the water drainage on the sloping land. So, you need to plan a proper drainage system for the water coming down the slope and divert it away to someplace safe.

Step 2: Avoid issues with wiring and building codes

Avoid issues with wiring and building codes

You must keep on your mind to check any underground utilities present before you start digging your land. Ensure that you are not disrupting any underground wiring and not violating any building codes.

Step 3: Calculating the rise and run

Calculating the rise and run

Now you need to measure the rise (vertical distance) and run (horizontal distance) of your sloping garden. You can measure it simply by pounding the wooden stake into the ground at the bottom and others at the top of the slop.

Now tie a string at the bottom of the upper wooden stake and pull it tight and tie at the same level on the second stake. The length of the string gives you the run, whereas the distance between the ground and the string’s position on the bottom stake gives you rise.

Step 4: Determining the number of terraces

Determining the number of terraces

Now, using the run and the rise of your garden, you can determine the number of the terrace you can build in your backyard, maintaining its integrity. Make sure that each terrace is no longer than 1.5 m and no higher than 0.61 m for the best result.

Step 5: Marking


After calculating the number of the terrace, now, you shall determine where you want to place your garden bed physically.

You can start by marking the section on your garden as per the calculation you made. To make a square and outline it, you can use batter boards and mason strings or chalk lines. Marking these areas will prevent you from excessive digging.

You can simply sketch the drawing on a sheet of paper before marking it on the ground for your convenience.

Step 6: Dampen soil prior to making a terrace

Dampen soil prior to making a terrace

You might need to soften the soil a bit before you start digging. However, be careful not to use too much water to make and convert your garden into a muddy field.

Step 7: Construction of retaining walls

Construction of retaining walls

Now, you have to decide what type of walls you need in your garden. If you are thinking of building a shorter and inexpensive retaining wall, you can choose timber. If not, building walls with concrete would be beneficial for strength and safety concerns.

Now you can start digging the shallow trench along the horizontal direction of the slope. It would be best to dig the trench slightly wider than the materials that you are going to use to build your terrace wall. You can roughly leave 1 inch on either side of the wall.

Your next step will be to place your terrace wall inside the trench you dug. You must be careful that the wall must not be more than 2 feet from the ground unless you are using concrete as your wall.

If your wall tilts a bit while installing, you can take it out and level the bottom of the trench and re-insert the wall.

Step 8: Finishing the terrace garden

Finishing the terrace garden

Finally, you must flatten your garden beds before decorating any further. This can be done by moving the soil from the rear of the terrace to the front. You need to re-distribute the soil unless it is uniformly levelled.

You can use your gardening spade to move the soil. Don’t hesitate to remove the excess soil from a garden bed as the soil can be used on other garden beds. A bubble level would be an appropriate choice to measure the level uniformity on each garden bed.

Sloping lands are always vulnerable to erosion. If you are worried about erosion, you can simply mix some composted manure with the soil, strengthening your soil. You can use 2 inches of compost on your soil and tilt it to 6 to 8 inches into the soil with the help of a tiller.

If you still observe your land to be steeper for a single garden bed, then you can construct the additional beds on that. You can repeat the process unless you get the desired slope of your garden.

Loose soil may degrade the integrity of the terrace walls. And if you find the soil on your garden is too loose, you can use the soil contractor to compact the underlying soil. The soil contractor helps to compress your garden by removing oxygen and empty spaces on the ground.

You need to make sure that you should make your garden soil sufficiently damp before compacting. You can make 2-3 passes to ensure that the terrace ground is adequately compacted.

Extended Tips

Here, let’s discuss some extra tips you might want to consider while terracing your sloping garden.

1. Build a foundation

Build a foundation
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It should be done only if you are building your terrace walls with timbers or building tall retaining walls using concrete blocks. After you dig up the trench, you are ready to install the foundation.

Starting on the one end of the trench, you place the wooden or concrete foundation of required size on the ground.

You can make the necessary adjustment to make the foundation straight and level. You can move things in a place using a sledgehammer and check plumb with a level.

The same process is repeated for the installation of other pieces. You need to install a straight and continuous row of foundation following the above steps. It would be best to be sure that your foundation is level across the entire length of the wall.

2. Drive spikes or pipes through your timber wall

Drive spikes or pipes through your terrace wall if it is made of timber. You can drill holes through the part of the timber that is underground. After that, you can pound spikes or pipes through the hole into the surrounding soil to maintain the wall in place.

This can be done to all the installed walls of the garden. You can use the 18-inch long pipe for the best result. This step can be easily ignored if you are building a concrete terrace wall.

3. Protect retaining walls from moisture

Protect retaining walls from moisture
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For preventing moisture, you need to waterproof the retaining walls. This needs to be done in order to reduce the hydrostatic pressure on the terrace walls. The moisture usually remains after the runoff is gone.

This moisture slowly seeps through the wall and promotes discolouring and integrity of the wall. Similarly, it also weakens the strength of the wooden wall over a period of time. So, you need to use waterproof membranes on your retaining walls.

4. Ensure proper drainage

Sloping land is always prone to erosion, so you should ensure proper drainage of water on your terrace garden. If not, hydrostatic pressure builds up behind the walls and eventually leading to its failure.

You can achieve good drainage by keeping a perforated pipe along the inside bottom of the wall which allows you to drain out through them. You can also use at least 300 mm of granular materials behind the walls. It helps to direct water pressure downwards rather than on terrace walls.


Terracing a sloping garden is a painstakingly difficult job. But the end result will be all worth it. Once you’re done with terracing your garden, you can then plan your flowers and plants and plant them accordingly.

Or, you can simply finish them off with paving slabs and leave a few spots for your flowers and trees. Whatever you choose to do with your terraced garden, they’ll definitely look cleaner and gardening will be much less hectic for you.

8 Easy Steps to Terrace a Sloping Garden 2

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