Question:

Is it difficult to garden on a slope?

Slip Sliding No Nos

Tackle terraced garden designs on the weekend? No problem! Then you'll rewire your house...time to cut back on your caffeine. Rewiring the house takes longer than a weekend. Similarly, building elevated gardens is an attractive option if you have poor soil and a hilltop house, but don't understimate the difficulty level.

Before you run out and buy a book on how to build a terraced garden, take a cue from our weekend warrior hints:

  1. Whatever material you use--railroad ties, stones, timbers--be sure it's sturdy and anchored well.
  2. Just because you can't see the moisture in the soil, you shouldn't think that your elevated garden is free of water hazards. If you plop a stone wall down without testing the soil first, your elevated garden could resemble a scene out of a disaster movie.
  3. If you're building elevated gardens, you should probably limit yourself to a manageable size--King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had thousands of workers, but unless you employ a professional engineering team, you may want to build your walls only one to two feet high.
  4. Don't start at the top! A reliable trench dug at the bottom will anchor the project.
  5. Don't use timbers or stone or a pre-fab kit without reading the supplier's or manufacturer's instructions--they may recommend a maximum height.
  6. Don't start digging without calling your utility company or your city's public works department to determine if there are underground pipes, electric wires or gas lines on your property.

Your terraced garden designs will take longer than a weekend, but they'll be worth it--and it wouldn't hurt to call an electrician for the house.

Slippery Slopes?

You thought that beach house or house on a hill would be paradise, until you tried to garden on a rolling, rocky slope. Fortunately, you're not in a California mudslide area. Besides, rocky slopes with less-than-ideal soil are perfect for elevated gardens. Some of the advantages of terraced garden designs include:

  • Better views--the bay windows from that beach house will show off your sloping terraced garden.
  • When deciding how to build a terraced garden, you can choose a mix of shallow and deep-rooted plants.
  • You can use attractive circulation pathways for easy access to your elevated garden.
  • You can break a long slope into short slopes with slanting timbers or stones--just be sure to prepare the ground and soil composition the way you would for a raised garden on a flat slope.
  • You can use a drip irrigation system--works great for water conservation!

Now that you've built your new terraced garden, you can feel flush and relaxed as you lounge on your deck before tending your garden...unless it looks as if your beach is sliding into the ocean!

Raised Garden Frequently Asked Questions

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Lynda Moultry