While scrolling through small garden ideas, you might have come across two types of solutions on how to make a terrace garden. The two types are for two different situations, but today I will talk about both. If you want to take up terrace farming at home, that means you have a sloped yard or backyard.
You’ll need to cut some terrace steps out of the slope if you want to plant anything on that stretch of soil successfully. We will talk about how to do so quickly and inexpensively. The other type of terrace gardening is even more straightforward.
It means turning your balcony or a stretch of a rooftop into a green oasis. No matter which solution for terrace gardening you were looking for, rest assured that I will be answering both. While I’m more adept at terrace gardening on a balcony, I’ve also dabbled in terrace gardening on a sloping yard. Let’s get started.
Terrace Garden in Your Backyard
Let’s say the back or front of your house has a sloping yard. Naturally, you cannot carry out gardening there the same way you would in a level stretch of garden. An excellent way to utilize this sloped earth is to cut terrace steps into it. Here’s a fair warning- terrace gardening this way is an inexpensive solution that’s not very technical, but you’ll still need some carpentry or landscaping experience.
If you’re an absolute newbie in this, you should get the help of someone who knows what this is about. If the slope is steep in your backyard, there’s a possibility there’s been erosion, and the topsoil has been washed away. In this case, cutting terrace steps is a solution that would increase soil fertility and stabilize the slope.
How to Make a Terrace Garden With Wood Logs
If you’re not familiar with the concept of check logs or check dams, this guide will help you. I’ve broken it down into some easy to follow steps:
- Identify the elevation contour lines. A tool called the A-frame level can help identify the elevation along the slope you’re going to work on.
- Once you’ve identified the contour lines, drive stakes along each contour line. Don’t space them too far away from each other because they’ll make the essential structure of each terrace step.
- Next, use cardboard as a weed barrier—lay sheets of cardboard behind the stakes, where we’ll be laying soil. Don’t forget to overlap the edges of the cardboard sheets. This measure will prevent weed from peeking in between the sheets.
- Now, it’s time to pile logs and tree limbs behind each line of stakes. Pile logs a little higher than level because the terrace soil is going to settle with time.
- Pack the back of the log barrier with dry twigs, brush, and leaf litter. That is going to prevent soil from washing out through the gaps in the logs.
- Lastly, pack soil into the space behind the log barriers. As I’ve said before, pack the soil a little higher than level.
- Now, let nature work its magic. Please wait for a couple of hard rains, and check how the terrace steps hold against it. The soil will settle a bit lower into the terrace.
- Now it’s time to plant your favorites into the terrace. For maximum stability, you could plant perennials into the steps. Their roots will fortify the steps. Other than that, you can plant virtually any plant into the soil: vegetables, herbs, annuals, low maintenance succulents, anything works.
- After you’ve planted the terrace steps, keep an eye on them. They will need maintenance over the years.
Some More Check Log Terrace Gardening Tips
- Before you start working, it helps to draw the slope and decide where the terrace steps would be.
- Make sure there are level places from which to work because terrace steps are tended by hand. You can’t operate heavy machinery like mowers or aerators there.
- Water the soil beforehand so it is slightly damp. You don’t want to work on arid soil. It will be annoyingly dusty.
- Start to prepare your terrace garden from the bottom up, i.e., cut the bottom-most terrace first, and then keep going to the top.
- To ensure your terraces are more stable, you could dig trenches at the bottom and the two opposite sides of each terrace step. If you place logs along the trench and stabilize them with stakes, they’ll be more durable.
- Keep the soil that you’ve dug out from the trenches and use it to level out the terrace step. It also helps to shovel soil from the back of the terrace box to the front.
- You can reinforce the terrace steps with rebar stakes, which are more durable than wooden stakes.
- Talk to local authorities to make sure you don’t disrupt utility wires.
- With time, some soil will run off with rainwater. You’ll need to fill the top terrace steps with more soil in spaces that become sparse. Add organic matter to the higher steps, as nutrients will leech down to the lower terrace steps with rainfall.
Terrace Garden in Your Balcony or Rooftop
If you live in a house without a yard or an apartment where the only open space is a balcony, it’s easy to fall out of touch with nature. Having access to a garden and working in it regularly is very good for a person’s mental and physical health. A terrace garden could be perfect for achieving that benefit.
A garden on your balcony or rooftop would mean it’s easy to spend some quality time among the greenery. The home terrace garden can be aesthetically pleasing, be used to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs, and reduce heat in your home and surroundings.
The good news is that unlike making a terrace garden in your sloped yard, making a terrace garden in your balcony or roof is relatively simple. You don’t need any special skills. You need to spend some time, money, and elbow grease.
Step 01- Plan a Layout
Your terrace garden’s layout will depend on the space you want to devote to it. It would help if you calculated how many plants you want to place in it, which plants, and how much space you want to leave for walkways, sitting arrangements, or other decorative elements.
It would help if you also planned on making your balcony or rooftop safe. You need to make sure the structure can take the weight of all the plants, planters, and soil. If you put too much weight on it, the structure will become unstable and cause an accident.
Another thing to consider is waterproofing. If you plan to use planters only, make sure they have a flat plate underneath to catch the excess water. However, if you’re thinking about covering the whole surface with soil, definitely look into methods to waterproof the floor/roof.
Step 02- Prepare the Essentials
Soil: It’s unwise to use regular garden soil in your terrace garden. Aim to buy well-drained soil. If you’re using planters, you might want to get different soil types for different types of plants. Make sure to add necessary soil amendments before you start planting.
Containers: The weight of the containers is something you should keep in mind, as I’ve already mentioned. Once you consider that, you can use virtually anything as a planter, from metal buckets to mason jars to old wooden cartons. However, refrain from using chemically-treated wooden containers as the chemicals might leach into the soil.
It’s also important to avoid black plastic containers as they’ve been seen to harm the plant roots when left in full sunlight. Nowadays, terra cotta and ceramic planters are very popular. But it would help if you remembered that they’re pretty weighty, and also expensive.
Plants: This step depends purely on your needs and desires. Do you want vegetables and herbs, or just flowers and ornamental plants? The plants you pick should also be suitable for your terrace garden’s temperature, sunlight, and airflow. I would recommend starting with a few plants and keep adding more once you’ve got the hang of terrace gardening.
Step 03- Start Planting
Now that you have everything you need, start planting and arranging your terrace garden. Take care of your plants. Do not let them go dry, but also do not let them get waterlogged. Apply pesticide when appropriate, and protect the plants from birds and other animals using a wire mesh or garden net.
After you’re done with planting, it’s time to decorate your garden. You can add some weather-resistant furniture for sitting in the garden and add a fountain, some pebbles, and statement pieces like small statues and vases.
A terrace garden on your balcony or rooftop is going to be the gem of your household if you do it well and take care of it diligently. Similarly, a terrace garden on a sloped yard also can become a beautiful self-sustaining ecosystem.
But do you know what the best part about both types of terrace gardens is? If you’re unhappy, you can dismantle both of them and use the space for something else. It’s that simple, so now that you know how to make a terrace garden, get a move on! A beautiful garden awaits you.