How to Terrace a Sloped Yard

Sloping yards present several challenges for landscaping.

Adding terraces to a slope creates interest and prevents erosion.Adding terraces to a slope creates interest and prevents erosion.
Erosion is a potential issue if the slope is steep; growing plants that are attractive and adding variety to the landscape can be difficult in these type of areas as well. Creating terraced landscaping on a slope solves those problems and more. Terraces create more space for plants, allowing for more variety. The terraces and plantings deter erosion and add interesting focal points to the slope.

Measure the slope area to be landscaped. Examine the topography of the area. Check for the type of soil and how heavy the angle of the slope is. Beds should typically be every 2 feet. The rise of the slope will determine the depth and how many terraces you need to plan for.

Determine the length and width of the beds and multiply the number of either railroad ties, blocks or landscape timbers it will take to build 2-foot walls for every terrace to the length you need. Railroad ties should not be used in areas with edible plants, but are fine for flowering plants or bushes. Remember to purchase rebar if you are using ties, to anchor them into the slope and together. Interlocking blocks probably won't require this method, but check with the manufacturer.

Mark the slope with the chalk line, outlining the wall for each bed. Marking every 2 feet in rise before you begin digging so you can see where each new level should begin.

Dig out the steps, beginning at the bottom of the slope and moving up every 2 feet in rise. Level each step. If your soil is suitable you can retain it to fill the beds. If it is not good growing soil, replace it with topsoil. An alternative method is to build on top of the slope, making a trench for the first terrace wall and setting the back edge of each side wall into the hill as you go up.

Begin setting the terrace walls on the bottom step first. Set the ties, timbers or blocks in place and secure, making sure they are anchored according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you are building the terraces as a continual system, the back edge of the wall will sit just below the bottom edge of the terrace wall above it. Check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure of your materials and proper placement.

Fill the beds, starting with the bottom bed. Start at the back of the bed and fill towards the front. Level the bed once filled.

Mulch and plant the terraces once they are filled with topsoil.

Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Chalk line
  • Landscape building materials
  • Hammer
  • Rebar (optional)
  • Topsoil

About the Author

Caprice Castano recently left the field of construction management to operate her own contracting business and spend time developing her writing career. Current projects include freelance writing for Internet publications and working on novel-length fiction.