how to build small terraced side garden

how to build small terraced side garden

Are you challenged with sloping land? Right here’s an answer to cease erosion on a hillside and create an easily-navigable terrace backyard. Oh, and don’t neglect to seize your FREE DOWNLOAD: Constructing a Test Log Terrace Fast Begin Information on the finish of the article.

This web page might include affiliate hyperlinks. Please learn my disclosure for more information.

You're reading: how to build small terraced side garden


In 2011, I began Hillside Group Backyard, and because the title implies, we had a steep problem. The hillside was liable to land-sliding and erosion. Any topsoil and vitamins that will have been there at one time had since washed away.

We have been on the lookout for a backyard terrace resolution that not solely helped stabilize the hillside, but additionally helped improve fertility (to make up for all that had washed away). Oh, and the answer wanted to be low-cost and low tech, as a result of in any case, we’re only a volunteer group working on a small price range.

Test Logs: A Backyard Terrace for a Slope

I sought council from native permaculture practitioners, who recommended that I look into the idea of examine logs.

I had no concept what examine logs have been, however I discovered extra data in Edible Forest Gardens in addition to in Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Past, the place they’re known as examine dams.

A Test Log Terrace Abstract

So what’s a examine log terrace?

On this technique, logs and brush are laid throughout the hillside like a beaver dam and held in place with wood stakes. Natural matter is added above the dam.

Perennials are planted above and/or under the dam, whose roots will absorb and sluggish the rain and vitamins as they rush down the hill.

Constructing a Test Log Terrace in 8 Steps

The next are the steps to construct your individual examine log terrace.

#1: Drive stakes alongside an elevation contour line.

Contour strains are those who you see on an elevation map.

Think about a flat dinner plate with a tablespoon of water on it. When the perimeters of the plate are degree (all on the identical elevation contour), the water stays on the plate. Nevertheless, if one edge dips to the facet (modifications elevation), the water runs off.

When constructing terraces, discover the contour line to maintain the rainwater on the plate (terrace) so it could slowly sink in. A low-tech gadget referred to as an A-frame degree will help determine contours. Learn all about this device and how you can construct one right here.

Drive stakes in alongside the contour line each 2-6 ft. The steeper the slope, the nearer collectively the stakes needs to be.

Make stakes out of waste wooden, purchase 2 x 2 x 36-inch untreated pine stakes from a house enchancment retailer, or purchase untreated wood deck balusters.

Would you prefer to be taught extra about utilizing the contour of your land to enhance the biodiversity of your backyard, scale back upkeep, and improve yield?

You might want to know: what to do in the garden in august in melbourne

You’ll discover a great deal of data identical to this in my award-winning guide, The Suburban Micro-Farm.

The Suburban Micro-Farm Book

#2: Lay cardboard as a weed barrier behind the stakes. (We coated sufficient house to make a backyard terrace three ft huge).

Free cardboard is a superb weed blocker in managed backyard areas. Lay cardboard like shingles on a roof—begin on the backside, prime items on the prime of the slope. Overlap the items by a number of inches on all sides—weeds will discover any openings.

#3: Lay logs, limbs and brush uphill of the stakes to behave as a dam.

We used logs and limbs that we cleared from the realm in preparation for this challenge. In case your examine log space is already cleared, an area tree trimming firm could possibly provide you with the wooden you want.

Logs and limbs 1-4 inches in diameter work finest. Logs which can be 6-8 inches in diameter will work, too, however first, dig just a little trench for them to sit down in, to take some strain off the stakes.

Logs are placed behind stakes in the first step of creating a terrace on a slope.

Pile the logs up in order that they’re barely larger than degree, as a result of the terrace will settle over time. Like this:

The logs of this check log terrace solution should be placed a bit higher than level because they will settle. A leveling device is helpful.

#4: Plug up the holes.

Pack twigs, brush, and leaf litter into the logs and limbs to behave as a filter and maintain in soil.

Because of this, fall is an ideal time to construct a examine log terrace!

Seal the inside of the check logs with organic matter such as twigs, brush, and leaf litter to act as a filter and hold in soil on the terrace.

#5: Add soil uphill of the limbs and brush, on prime of the cardboard.

Fill soil on prime of the cardboard till it’s degree with the terrace. The soil will settle over time, so anticipate so as to add extra sooner or later.

If you wish to plant under the dam as a substitute of above it, you may skip this step.

Add soil on top of cardboard behind the check logs to create a planting surface on the terrace.

#6: Observe the terrace after a few arduous rains.

How did it maintain up? Are there any low spots that want extra logs, leaf litter, or soil?

This hillside includes six terraces total, three of them for planting, and three of them for pathways between the planting terraces.

Test log terraces present the inspiration for wooden chip paths to flank both facet of this to-be fruit tree terrace.

#7: Plant perennials within the new soil.

Read: how to cook garden green beans

At this check backyard, we’re planting fruit timber, berry bushes, and edible/medicinal herbs. It’s finest to concentrate on perennials, whose roots shall be everlasting fixtures within the terrace to stabilize the hillside.

For my favourite planting concepts, see:

  • Create a Meals Forest
  • Easy methods to Construct a Fruit Tree Guild
  • 4 Berry Bushes That Fertilize, Too!

Mulch the planting space properly to scale back erosion and to stabilize the soil in these new planting areas. I like white clover. For extra concepts, see: Mulching within the Permaculture Backyard.

#8: Observe over time.

Because the terrace settles and decomposes over time, there could also be little spots right here and there that should be plugged up, or a stake that wants changed.

Basically although, this little ecosystem you’ve constructed will do a great job of stabilizing itself with no entire lot of labor in your half.

6 Advantages of the Test Log Terrace Backyard

#1: Aerate Soil

Test logs loosen and aerate this soil so you may have a profitable hillside backyard.

#2: Catch Vitamins

Test logs are like nets, catching important vitamins earlier than they rush away within the rain.

See: Easy methods to Stop Soil Erosion in Gardens and on Farms.

#3: Enhance Plant Life

In examine log terraces, crops thrive within the free, aerated soil, wealthy in vitamins.

#4: Improve Natural Matter

Wealthy, aerated soil attracts worms and different helpful soil organisms. As they go about their day by day enterprise, they wiggle out and in of the brand new and previous soil, forming little tunnels and fertilizing all over the place they go.

Worms excrete a sticky exudate in these tunnels, which holds the loosened soil collectively so it doesn’t wash away. The tunnels enable air, water, and vitamins to penetrate deeper into the soil, stopping much more runoff and constructing nutrient-rich soil to help thriving crops.

#5: Entice Helpful Fungi

Fungi are a sign of wholesome, mature soil, and show up pretty shortly in examine log terraces due to the decomposing logs. These fungal networks type helpful relationships with the roots of the crops, and catch and maintain each soil and vitamins.Check log terraces stabilize the slope and provide level planting areas using resources on hand.

#6: Construct an Ecosystem With Very Little Work

Finally, a examine log terrace on a slope will turn out to be its personal self-sustaining ecological system, drastically enhancing the soundness of the hillside and contributing to the regeneration of an eroded panorama.


A examine log terrace is so easy that it’s price a strive in your hillside at this time. Even higher: should you change your thoughts, it’s simply as low-cost and straightforward to deconstruct 🙂

Want extra concepts for rising a permaculture backyard?


  • Entrance Yard Rainwater Catchment
  • 5 Causes to Develop Chives
  • 6 Flowers to Develop within the Vegetable Backyard

What do you assume? Will a examine log terrace backyard enhance your hillside?

Read: what soil to use in raised garden beds