How to Terrace a Garden in Your Backyard

terrace garden

We all want to enjoy our outdoor spaces, but not everyone has flat property, and that’s a dilemma. We’ll teach you how to terrace a garden in your backyard while adding depth and function. Whether you have a sloped yard or a home on a steep hill, you can go next level.

You can absolutely cultivate a garden idea or a timeless landscape design to enjoy, even on uneven ground. It’s a matter of hours, days, weekends, or even a few months, depending on the breadth of your project.

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Here are considerations and guidelines for creating your terraced garden:

How Will You Use Your Terrace Garden?

terrace garden
Photo Credit: brewbooks / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA-2.0

Before designing your terraced garden, list the ways you want to use your garden.

  • Do you want a flat area to create more living space outdoors?
  • Do you want to add landscaping, water features, or flowers?
  • Would you like to grow a vegetable garden?
  • Do you need to create a retaining wall to prevent soil erosion?

If you have a clear understanding of your garden’s use, you can determine the design and materials you need to execute your plan. Once your dream is clear, you’ll need to decide on your budget for your sloping garden.

Cost to Terrace a Yard

Photo Credit: brewbooks / Flickr / CC BY SA-2.0

The cost to create a terraced garden depends on several factors: materials for the retaining wall, its size, and especially, whether you build it yourself or hire a contractor.

A professional landscaping company can install the wall for you, with the average cost for a retaining wall ranging from $3,500 to $9,400. If you DIY, materials for terracing a garden can range from $4 to $20 per square foot

You may also incur other DIY costs:

  • Tools: Compactor or grader
  • Rebar and stakes: Used to secure your building materials
  • Fabric: To hold the soil in place and distribute weight evenly

Here’s a list of the average price per square foot of some of the more common materials used:

  • Corten Steel/Metal $42 – $150
  • Rammed Earth/Chalk $20 – $30
  • Boulder/Rock $20 – $90
  • Cinder Block $15 – $40
  • Brick $17 – $43
  • Wood Timber $13 – $35
  • Poured Concrete $20 – $40

If you decide to hire someone to do the work for you, labor costs vary depending on the type of materials and size of the wall; however, you can expect to pay around $20 to $53 per square foot (materials and labor) for professional installation.

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Create Your Terrace Garden Design

terrace garden design
Photo Credit: UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Now that your budget and purpose are set, it’s time for the fun part – designing your terrace garden. You’ll want your garden projects best suited for the slope of your backyard and the function of the terraced garden.

Material options for your sloped garden spaces include:

  • Treated wood and landscaping timbers
  • Concrete blocks and walls
  • Bricks and pavers
  • Stones and boulders

Wood tends to blend with your natural outdoor surroundings, whereas masonry and stones create more of a focal point.

There are plenty of terraced garden bed ideas and raised garden bed hacks to artistically design with your favorite annuals and perennials. Beautiful lawn levels will be a joy to mow and you’ll mulch to your heart’s content.

How to Build a Terrace Garden

How you build your terrace garden depends on the slope of your land. If it is a very steep hillside, you may need to call in an expert for help. But in most cases, constructing a garden terrace can be a DIY project.

To build a terraced garden yourself, you need to consider how confident you are in your physical strength and abilities. There are many resources that tell you how to fill your terraced flower beds inexpensively using a permaculture practice called hugelkultur.

Step by Step, Bed by Bed

You can incorporate many types of material into your terrace.
Photo Credit: Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If you think it’s a larger job than you can do, you might be wise to hire a professional, but if you’re a DIY warrior, here are the steps to begin:

  1. You’ll need to calculate the rise (vertical distance) and the run (horizontal distance) of your slope. These measurements and the number of garden beds you want to create will help you determine the height and width of each bed.
  2. Dig your trenches. How deep you dig depends on the number of tiers you want to create. The more levels you build, the deeper you must dig into the first tier. With each tier, you’ll need to be sure that the front and two sides of each terrace level are even.
  3. Add your building materials. This could be landscape timbers, pavers, stones, bricks, etc. Be sure to anchor them down and level out the soil behind them, then repeat for additional tier levels.

Finish and Finesse Your Terrace Garden

terrace garden
Photo Credit: Pxhere

With the foundation of your terrace garden built, you can now add shrubs, ground cover, flowers, and other greenery to your hillside garden. The options are endless. Magic happens when you mix textures, heights, elements, and colors to create your own unique outdoor space.

If you have a hillside or steep slope that you’d like to transform into an enjoyable outdoor space, terrace gardening is a great option. It does involve some work and research upfront, but the end result is a stunning space that you can enjoy for years to come.


How are Terraces Created?

Terraces are made by trenching and moving soil, then creating retaining walls for the soil. You can make level planting beds for flowers, plants, and vegetables, and create grassy areas that extend your outdoor spaces.

What Materials do I Need to Make Terraces?

There are a number of different materials you can use to build your terraced garden:

● Concrete blocks

● Pavers

● Wood logs or lumber

● Stones

● Boulders

Can I Make my Terrace Garden Accessible for a Family Member?

Yes. Though it’s important to use ADA guidelines for wheelchair accessibility, you can make raised flower beds and gardens and smooth pathways through the garden.

Take Your Landscaping to Another Level with Terraced Gardens

When choosing your landscaping elements, remember that this area, like other garden areas, will require maintenance to retain its beauty. Choose plants, bushes, and shrubs that will thrive in a hillside environment. Seek guidance from your local Extension service or a landscaping company on the best plants for your space.

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Main Image Credit: Pxhere

Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester

Jennifer Lester is a freelance writer and social media strategist who covers a variety of home and garden topics. She’s a graduate of Texas A&M University and the proud mom of three boys. In her spare time, she volunteers in her community and her children’s schools.