How To Create A DIY Terraced Garden Over A Weekend

Posted on: 13 October 2014

Whether your landscaping is overgrown, sparse, or simply nonexistent, you may be looking for a few tips to help revitalize your lawn and garden. A terraced garden can be a great way to utilize and add color and texture to a smaller space. However, when you're facing a large DIY project, you may not know where to begin. Read on to learn more about how you can create a terraced backyard garden over a long weekend -- with only the assistance of your local construction rental company.

What you'll need

To begin your project, you should rent a small excavator or compact tractor from a construction rental company. You should be able to have this tractor delivered, or you can haul it yourself in the bed of a standard pickup truck (just make sure you have a ramp for loading and unloading). Be sure to have a plan for disposing of the excess dirt and grass you'll create -- it's much easier to get rid of this while you have a high-powered tractor, rather than trying to dump wheelbarrows full of dirt later.

You should also determine how you'd like your terraces to be bordered. You can outline each terrace with landscape timbers, paver stones, small boulders, or simply leave them natural and edge with flowing plants such as moss or phlox.

Finally, you'll need some flowers and plants to put in your completed garden -- and, depending on the condition and appearance of your soil, you may also want some mulch. 

Preparing the area

You'll want to start with an area that is slightly sloped -- although it is possible to terrace a flat area, it will require purchasing large quantities of rock and fill dirt. It's much easier to excavate a sloped area than to fill in a flat one. 

Before you begin excavating, mark the borders of the areas you'd like to terrace with spray paint -- this will make it easier to see from the cab of the tractor. You can create a terrace using the traditional rectangular stair-step method, or create a series of curved wedges (like a spiral staircase). Be sure to leave some space on either side of the terraced area to create small vertical grooves, as these will allow rain and other water to properly drain from the area.

Beginning construction

Once you have your vision in mind (and outlined on the ground), you can begin excavating with your LAX Equipment Rental. Lower the blade of the tractor and use it to gently remove the first few layers of earth for each terrace, being careful not to dig too deeply. Although you'll eventually want to excavate anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more, digging too much at once runs the risk of damaging the tractor's blades (if you run into rocks) or accidentally uprooting too much soil.

After you've excavated the terraces, begin working on your borders. Whether you've chosen paver stones or landscape timbers, these materials should be stacked vertically on the front-facing side of each terrace. You can use the blade of the tractor to tamp these materials down to ensure that they are securely placed.

As a final step, use a shovel to dig a small trench on either side of the terraces, to allow rain to flow around the terrace and prevent water from pooling within any of the steps.

Finishing touches

Once your terraces are complete, it's time to put on the finishing touches -- planting flowers within the terraces and spreading grass seed over any outer areas that were hit with the excavating blade. One tip from master gardeners is to ensure that there is always something blooming in your garden. To accomplish this, you should make sure that any briefly-blooming flowers, such as lilies, are balanced with frequently-blooming perennials, like roses. Be sure to plant some chrysanthemums or decorative grasses so that you have some garden color through the fall and winter.


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